Have Ewe Any Wool?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Royal Way to Dye Naturally....

This weekend, I decided to try my hand at natural dyeing using Queen Anne's Lace. I followed the instructions from Toni at The Fold - her instructions were easy and it worked beautifully!

First, I gathered about 3.8 oz. of Queen Anne's Lace - just the flower tops, not the stems. I was careful to select those that were fully flowering...as indicated in Toni's instructions. I then chopped them up very fine and simmered them for 1 hr. before straining. I should have taken pictures....it looked like greenish-brown mud as it cooked.

Next, I simmered 2 oz. of wool in a solution of water and .2 oz. of alum. I don't have a separate dye kitchen nor special dye pots as yet, so I needed to stick to food grade mordants....and non-toxic plants! DH took a look at the "cooking wool" and wondered "what on earth" I was cooking now! He had his suspicions though since he'd caught me cooking flower tops earlier....instead of making his lunch! He was not surprised when I responded that it was wool. He did mention that the simmering wool looked like the biggest dumpling he'd ever seen! Again, I should have taken a picture as my description pales in comparison.

Finally, I washed out the mordant pot and added the dye solution, the wool, and plenty of water. I was a bit worried. The dye "concentrate" was rather brownish looking with some residual green at the bottom of the mason jar. Hmmmmm....not quite the color I was going for. After adding the dye concentrate to the dye pot, it looked like "creek water" - you know, the rather muddy looking stuff that you can't quite see through? I was totally unimpressed with what I thought would now become the color of my wool, but I went ahead and simmered it for an hour and hoped for the best!

After letting it cool in the dye pot overnight, I removed the wool. It didn't look too bad, but it reminded me of a newspaper that had been left out in the sun. I was quite pleased that it gained a much better hue after spinning it "dry" in the washer.

These pictures don't properly show the yellow color that I achieved. It's more of a medium baby yellow than it appears on my monitor. I think I'll try aluminium sulfate the next time to see if I get a stronger color.

Last night, I got to see the fabulous doily that Carol is making. It's a Niebling doily - it's all knitted except the edging...which is crocheted. The doily is finished except for the crocheted edge - it's absolutely stunning! The yarn is hemp and it works quite well with this pattern!

Now for some nature shots - I love the flowers on thistles - especially the purple topped ones!

And finally, my favorite picture of the day - it came out nice and clear and the flower even has some purple in it! (Click on the photo for a closer look!)


  • At 7:21 AM, Blogger GretchenX said…

    Well, it came out lovely - are you bringing it with you on Sunday?

  • At 7:25 AM, Blogger Jinann said…

    I'll definitely bring a sample on Sunday - dyed and undyed.

  • At 1:47 AM, Blogger Polly said…

    We need to talk because I have bags of plants and stuff that is used for dyeing and I have no idea what to do! I need to be talked through this.

  • At 6:00 AM, Blogger Jinann said…

    Oh, how exciting! What plants do you have? (I'm hoping to get some black walnuts for dying.....my next project....and a messy one at that!)


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