Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dyeing Yarn with Black Beans

Yarn Dyeing with Black Beans
So uh, definitely enjoying the natural dyeing!  I read a few blogs where they'd managed to get blue (apparently a more difficult colour to get with natural dyes) using black beans.  Obviously I had to try!  I dumped a bunch of beans (about 4 cups?) in a bowl with enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches, then left them alone to steep for 12 hours, stirring often.  It was interesting to watch the liquid change - first turning a light blue, then a deep shade of blue/purple, and eventually almost a deep green-blue.  As others have mentioned, the beans swell up a lot, so you have to make sure there's enough water in there.

Black Bean Dyeing
After straining out the liquid, I left it alone for a couple of hours to let the finer particulates settle out, and then I gently scooped out the liquid into a jar.  Dumped my already scoured and alum mordented yarn into the jar, sealed it up, and left it alone for a while.

And then after 36-ish hours, the liquid seemed to swell a bit, because boy did it start to leak out of my not-so-sealed jar and now I have blue dye all over the open shelves and floor below where I stored it.  That's about when I decided to pulled the out the yarn.

Black Bean Dyeing
It looked a lot darker when I pulled out the yarn, but a lot of the dye washed out.  It kept shedding dye until I gave it a vinegar bath, which seemed to halt the bleed.  And weirdly, turned the water purple.  I sort of want to play with this dye source some more and see what happens at different pHs.  This blogger got a gorgeous shade of blue GREEN with more acidic well water, which I suspect also had a healthy dose of iron oxide in it too.  (I hope that link works - it did as of yesterday, but it's giving me a hosting error right now).

Yarn Dyeing with Black Beans
I used a skein of undyed Earth Collection Nova, which is a 100% alpaca in DK weight.  The final result wound up being a gorgeous light shade of silvery blue. 

Yarn Dyeing with Black Beans
Obviously fibre plays a big roll in dye uptake, since the 100% wool yarn I used to tie off the skein turned a really appealing shade of dark blue.  I definitely want to use wool for this dye bath again!

Black beans...who knew!

12 comments:

  1. You need acid to fix dye into protein fibres. Word!

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    1. Makes sense when you put it that way!

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  2. Black beans are so on my list! I love the light color you got here-can't wait to see what else you come up with :)

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    1. I'm definitely more a dark-shade kind of girl, but this colour is just gorgeous, and even better in person. :)

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  3. All your dyeing experiments are so cool! I wish it didn't need to be mordanted though - I'd love to do this with Evie (I'm running out of kool-aid packs since they aren't sold in Canada any more).

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    1. I'm using an alum mordant, which isn't nearly as bad as some others. In fact, you can buy the alum in the spice shelf at the grocery store, and it's often (apparently) used in canning!

      But there's other dyes you can do without mordenting, and in fact, you can do most of these without. Try onion skins - it's just a lighter yellow without the mordant. And any thing that naturally contains tannin doesn't need a mordant, since the tannin does the job for it. Basically most barks naturally have them, and you can order tannin too.

      Plus you can do food dye dyeing! I found this neat blog post where someone did something similar to kettle dyeing (so very tonal) using food dye. I want to try it!

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  4. Gorgeous! Your dyeing experiments are very interesting.

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  5. I think black beans produce some of my favorite dye colors. It also sounds super easy to do. You didn't even need heat. Solar dying is the way to go for me. I just started that handmade fashion challenge and dyeing up a skein of sock yarn will be part of that. So, you're giving me confidence about it. It's less intimidating when you've already watched a friend try it out.

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    1. Solar dyeing...would not work up here most of the time. Yes, we get a ton of it in the summer, but it isn't always that warm, and we tend to drop to single digits (decrees C - so pretty close to freezing) at night. :P I'm pretty stoked to see your attempts though - it does look interesting.

      WOOHOO handmade fashion challenge! I've just come back from a weekend away, but if you've posted about it, I'll read it soon! Also, I love that you're combining yarn dyeing with that challenge. :)

      Heh, I'll pass on any advice you need - although frankly, I flew by the seat of my pants through these experiments.

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  6. Oh, also, I thought I loved the light blue shade you got, but when you pointed out the pure wool tie, I'm thinking I'd try for that color too.

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    1. My box of bare wool from Knits Picks is sitting at our post office now, and I WANT IT NOW TO PLAY WITH WOOL DYEING! Every thing that I do shows that I like the wool uptake much more than any of the blends or other fibres I've had on-hand for experimenting. :)

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