Here they are in all their glory - my bits of dyed fleece, blankets and some skeins of wool. I have so much to tell you ladies and such little space. Where do I start?
Well firstly I'll mention some of the dyes we used. They were madder, indigo, logwood, fustic, weld, safflower, clover, cutch and onion skins. Most of them required an alum mordant except the indigo and the cutch.
The recipe for the mordant was as follows: for 500g of fibre you need 40g of alum and 35g of cream of tartar. Dissolve each of these seperately in a little boiling water and then add them to a pan of cold water. Stir well. Add the wool, blanket or whatever and bring slowly up to simmering point and keep there for about an hour. You can then leave everything in the pot to cool for a few hours or overnight.
The first thing my friend and I did was to start the indigo vat because that needs to be left for an hour or two before you can use it. For this we used 50g indigo, 40g of thiox and 90g of washing soda. (I think there are recipes for this on the internet so I won't go on about it here). We placed some cling film on the surface of the liquid and put the whole lot on the warming plate of the Aga to maintain its temerature.
Next stop fustic which had been soaking overnight. We placed that in pan, added the fibres and put it on the stove like so:
Brought this up to a simmer and let it sit like this for an hour or so. I wasn't that impressed with the colour it was a nice light yellow but nothing to write home about. Still it was nicer than the weld that went on the stove next (in the same manner).
Then we tried some logwood which I had had lying around for about 5 years! You're supposed to soak this overnight but I only found it in the morning so I poured boiling water on it and it sat on the warming plate for 7 hours. With this one we just added water to it and boiled it to extract the dye. Then it was strained and we added the wool and the blankets like so:
Now this was the success of the day. What a colour. I was ecstatic. We simmered this for an hour and left it in the garden for an hour or so. After that we re-boiled the logwood chips, strained them, added them to the now empty dye pot and we added some skeins of wool and repeated the whole process. Here are the results:
Then my friend had brought some safflower which we simmered for an hour to extract the colour. Added this to the dyebath and then we put more wool, fleece and blanket and simmered the whole lot for about an hour. This was my next favourite. Here's a pic of one of the skeins:
I was keen to try some cutch that I had because I wanted to dye some blankets brown. For this dye you just mix ther powder to a paste with boiling water and then add warm water and then you add it to your dye bath. For a deep brown you don't use alum mordant but add a copper modifier afterwards. So in went the blankets all evening and overnight. No heat necessary. (I added the copper after a few hours). Here are my beautiful blankets (or at least one of them):
Then it was time for the madder. Also soaked overnight and then warmed up on the Aga (you musn't let it boil if you want red and orange colours). I wanted to dye 400g of wool so in it went and it simmered on the stove for a few hours. I left it overnight because the dye didn't seem to be strong enough and a phone call to P&M Woolcraft this morning confirmed my suspicions. I hadn't used enough dye for the amount of wool. So I've ordered another 200g and I will repeat the process and hope the wool goes darker. Here it is in it's pot:
Meanwhile the indigo vat was ready. Hurrah. Firstly I dipped in 800g of wool - a very quick dip:
Then in went some fleece and another skein or two. After this I wanted to make a green so we dipped in some of the yellow wool that was dyed with weld, fustic and safflower. I have to say that the results weren't that impressive. I had hoped for a grassier green but we got this instead:
I've redipped these in an onion skin dye bath tonight to see if the green colour improves.
Now I'm conscious that this post is going on and on. Sorry prairiemouse I PROMISE ONE DAY I WILL WRITE A SHORT POST (she's been teasing me again). So I'll just tell you that we boiled up some onion skins next and some clover too (seperately ofcourse). I don't have a good pic of either of them but here is one with the indigo dyed fleece and a piece of onion dyed blanket:
This next one is yellow blanket overdyed with indigo and then dyed with onion skins (because I didn't like the shade of green it was):
I quite like the mottled-ness of this. It'll be good for gnomes.
Well, that's it for now. I think. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed it. It was so nice working with natural materials and never knowing how anything would turn out. Just to sum up: I am really happy with most of the results but I need to redo the madder tomorrow. I would use all of them again except the weld and fustic - the safflower and onion produced nicer shades of yellow. Would love to hear which colours you like.....