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.



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....