Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Three Dye Baths - two failures, no pictures

First, my apologies. It's been a long time without a post.

So... I had a couple of days off last week and finally got caught up on two dye baths that I'd had fermenting about the house for weeks.

Woad - it's my first attempt at dyeing with woad. When we moved the plant to a new location in mid-October, the hubby strongly encouraged me to try dyeing with it. I was reluctant because it was just one plant, and the reading that I'd been doing suggested that it takes the leaves from 24 plants to dye 4 ounces of wool.

Many mistakes later.... not a bit of change in the wool, at all. Colour me frustrated.

Elm bark - One of my dye books, which I otherwise quite enjoy so I won't malign it with identity, suggested that all elm bark needed was to simmer an hour and it would give a subtle cherry colour. That didn't work.

A friend, and a mailing list suggested soaking in alcohol for a few weeks. So I dutifully added alcohol to the pot and let it sit for weeks. Until last week, when I heated it up and tried it again.

Still no colour change. At all.

I began to wonder if it was me, the fates, my water, or the phase of the moon.

So I dug out the commercially prepared cutch crystals, dissolved them in boiled water as directed, added the solution to a pot of water, stuck the wool in and presto (an hour later) - butterscotch dyed wool!

I'm a little disappointed that I so butchered the ones that started with nature and needed some work, but I will enjoy spinning that wonderful butterscotch colour. And I will do my research and make those other dye baths work eventually.

Karen

2 comments:

Mel said...

Did you ever see the episode of "The Worst Jobs in History" where they discuss Woad dyeing? I gathered it is very smelly work, did you have this problem?

Karen said...

Yeah, that was a funny series, and relatively accurate.

Whether woad is stinky or not depends on the recipe used, but yes the historical ones were stinky. Fermenting urine is the usual culprit....

Karen