Monday, June 19, 2017

Yarn Dyeing Experiment: Lupine

I've been plotting and planning to create my own line of naturally dyed yarn, and I'm now in the experimental phase.  I'm not going to go into too many details yet until I have a better feel of things, but I'm sure I'll share more here as I learn more.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
Today's post is about my first attempt at dyeing yarn with lupines.  They grow thick and beautiful here in the late spring/early summer.  I spent a lovely evening gathering a bunch of it the other night with a friend, and have gathered more since to freeze for future dyeing days.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I only collected the flower stalks, and used only the flowers for the dye bath.  If you had to guess what colour that would produce, you'd probably guess blue or purple.  You'd be wrong.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment Lupine Dyeing Experiment
While the dye bath was a lovely burgundy/pink shade, the yarn initially came out looking a sad shade of greyish-green after steeping overnight.  I was disappointed, but figured I'd overdye it with something else.  I toss the first dip yarn into a bath with pH neutral wool wash and an extra skein into the dye bath to exhaust the dye.  I left for work and left it be.  When I got home, the exhaust bath yarn was a paler sad shade of greyish-green when I pulled it out and into a rinse bath.  So imagine my surprise when I reached into the wool wash bath and pulled out a skein of lime green yarn!

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
First dip yarn on left, exhaust bath yarn in middle, undyed yarn on right.
I'm not entirely sure what caused the change, but I suspect the soap adjusted the pH and affected the colour of the yarn.  The chemistry is fascinating!  I'm so happy with the results - even the exhaust bath yarn.

For a bit of background here, I used Briggs and Little Sport yarn, divided into 25 g skeins for experimentation.  I premordent the yarn with alum, with cream of tarter as an assist.  I forgot to rinse the yarn before moving it from the premordent pot to the dye bath, and I thought that was why the dye seemed so disappointing.  I suspect that my water isn't a pure as I'd like.  I'll probably have to get bottled water to get more control of my results.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I already have a couple baskets worth of yarn in the freezer for future dyeing!
I want to play a bit more with lupine, see what happens when I modify it with iron and copper solutions.  I can see this one making it into my final line of yarns.

Have you tried natural dyeing yet?  I'm fascinated with the chemistry behind it, and have been consuming all of the books I can on the matter.  Know of any good ones to recommend?

8 comments:

  1. Wow, fascinating! I don't know much about dyeing (other than messing around using onion skins and lichen, when I was a kid) but will be following your progress with great interest.

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    1. Thanks! It's a lot of fun. I'm so curious about everything now - I walk around staring at things wondering if they'd be a good dye plant. :D

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  2. Not a knitter personally, so I've never tried yarn dyeing, but I've maintained a fascination with the colour of food lol. Ever since I was a little girl I've marveled at the bright juices coming out of cherries or beets, and I've wondered if I could dye my fabric with them! Very interesting post and I look forward to seeing your future experiments.

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    1. You could try dyeing fabrics too with the same plants! :) I'm focused on yarn right now, but I've wondered about dyeing with fabric too.

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  3. I love that shade of green! Never dyed yarn so I will be reading what you do and how your results are with great interest.

    God bless.

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    1. Thanks! I was so happy to see what colour appeared. It's just lovely, eh?

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