Dyeing Yarn with Natural Dyes. Part Two.

This is Part Two of my tutorial on dyeing yarn with black beans.  Take a look at the preceding post to see the steps involved in preparation of the dyepot and the mordanting the yarn.  

We're at the stage where we are reading to dye the yarn.  Remove the beans from the liquid and skim any foam that has accumulated of the top of the liquid, the pour it into your dyeing vat. 

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Here is our bean bath, all ready to go.  You'll notice that it is pinkish — dripping some of the color onto paper towels gives you an even better idea of what you can expect from the dyepot.

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Since this looked a bit on the pinkish side, and I wanted to bring out the blue-green tones in the dye, I mixed a solution of soda ash and water to use in the dyebath.

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First, I gently immersed the yarn in the dyepot.  If you want even color, you could gently move the liquid through the skeins for even coverage.  But because I wanted some light variegation, I carefully placed the skeins in the pot and ensured they were covered, but made no effort to distribute the dye.  I've got all three skeins of yarn in this one pot.

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In a bit of dyeing magic, I poured the soda ash solution over the top of the pot and there was an instant color transition.  That process continued as the yarn soaked over the next 12 hours.

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Here we are at the end of the dye bath, ready for removal and rinsing.

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I very gently rinse the yarn, and then soak it in successive baths until the liquid is completely clear.  Three baths did it for this yarn, but I did a final soak in synthrapol, a dyers' soap that removes any loose dye molecules at the end of the process, before reconditioning the yarn.

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Here are my three skeins, hanging for a final bit of sun after resekeining.  

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The skein on the left is the Malabrigo.  It's a pale green, the yarn has more color than the photo.  The middle skein is the Panda silk/bamboo blend and the skein on the right is the Pixie superwash wool. Dyeing is always a subjective process, influenced by a lot of external conditions like temperature, water ph, and concentration of dye.  But in natural dyeing, the results seem to be even more variable and very exciting.  I can't wait to knit with these skeins!

Natural dyes are notoriously migrant, meaning that the dye can fade with exposure to light and washing over time.  These skeins were well mordanted, but I'm going to do a little bit of experimentation with their light and color-fast properties to see how they do.  I hope you'll try some natural dyeing too.  Please let me know if you try it and what your results are like.  You really can't go wrong.


Yarn: Dyed and Overdyed

As a collage artist, I spent a lot of time layering color upon color to give a piece depth and movement.  I approach dyeing yarn the same way, and layering color upon color and glazing the finished skein produces some of my favorite yarn.  This is a great approach for a novice dyer to use.  Putting on layers of color and glazing will give you a lot of insight into how dye works on yarn.

The skein on the left is the product of several dye baths, which gave it pale undertones shining through a rich blue-puple.  The skein on the right has been glazed in a deep purple, which gives it a completely different look.  You would not likely guess that the two skeins started life looking the same.


In this next case, the skein on the left is dyed a sunny yellow-orange colorway.  Unlike our example above where the glaze was a darker color in the same family, the skein on the right was glazed in a reddish brown.  This focused on the color variation in the original skein and produced a mellowed brown skein with organic color changes.

Glazing can also be done in lighter colors, or, more sparingly in black.  The secret to glazing is to work with dye that will strike immediately and stay where it is placed.  Some dyers work with a dry skein to maximize this effect.  I typically work with a very hot dye bath and mordanted yarn, along with a damp but not wet, skein.  Whatever the method, and as with anything else to do with dyeing color and fiber there are a multitude of way to produce beautiful results, dyeing and overdyeing skeins is a great method for both beginning and more advanced dyers to use.


Baby Camel Yarn

Any yarn dyer will tell you: it's an addiction.  On a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning, dyers will jump out of bed and get to work.


Even though dyeing yarn to sell at the moment, my desire to dye yarn has never disappeared.  And I've had a lot of freedom to experiment with yarns, colors and processes.  One of my early experiments was with some ridiculously expensive but incredibly soft and beautiful Baby Camel yarn, in an 8-ply aran weight.  I loved the yarn, which I dyed up in baby sweater skein quantities for myself.  It's delightful.

I've been happily knitting an Antler Sweater from this yarn, so I was excited last night, when I went to pull some summer clothes out of my cedar closet, and realized there was a box of yarn I had dyed for myself tucked behind them.  (I feel horrible for my children — I have more stash than I can knit with in this life, and I know that after I die, they will be stuck having one of those horrible estate sales and trying not to laugh at the huge quantity of yarn I dyed for myself but never got around to knitting).  My favorite colorway in the box is this:


The colorway is Old Brick, dyed on Baby Camel yarn.  What a fantastic surprise to rediscover it, along with all of it's other "friends" in the box.  Even if I never get around to knitting with all of them, it's nice just to fondly pet them and look them over.  Sometimes, a dyer just has to dye.  That seems to be the case for me, especially in summer, with perfect weather and lots of inspiration!


Virtual Yardsale – Updated 2/11

Welcome to My Virtual Yard Sale.  I’m spring cleaning, so I’m looking for good homes for art supplies, children’s clothing, and other household items.  It makes me sad to see things going unused on the shelves.

Kiln for Precious Metal Clay and other PMC Items — contact me at joyce at elliebelly dot com if you are interested in any of these items.  I would prefer to sell it all together

Lot of Boys 4T/5T clothing for $20 plus shipping

image from www.elliebelly.com
size 4 navy blue “place” long khaki style pants
5 gap kids khaki shorts with great pockets
4/5 red bravaa soccer shorts
4/5 grey crew cuts cotton jersey shorts – only work twice
100 hanna anderson blue jersey shorts
unknown brand green plaid shorts
4 gymboree plaid shorts
4 polo jeans company tee in nice worn in boy shape
4-5 crew cuts navy tee
5 T circo yellow/gray striped tee
4/5 crewcuts lobster tee — very very cute
5T cherokee white/argyle vest-cute for easter with 1 very small minor stain at the neckline that should come out but you have to look pretty hard to see it. Including light blue shorts that look cute with them but do have a nickel sized stain 4″ down from the waist — again i think this will come out