Saturday, July 12, 2008

Yarn Barf...An Adventure into Natural Dyeing

We have a ton of berries growing at the back edge of our property. Mostly black raspberries and some mulberry too. So when J brought in a huge tub of berries what did I immediately think of? Wool, of course!

Researched natural dyeing on the internet & found that I needed to use a mordant like alum to use a natural dye. I was going to...even had J pick some up at the grocery store. But then I read that even when using alum from the spice aisle you can no longer use the dyeing pot for food...NOT gonna work :(

I read some more & thought that maybe I could use vinegar as the mordant instead...well I could try anyway, right? I skeined up 50g of Fishermen's Knitting Wool and got to work.

Here's my mashed black raspberries

In the crockpot with yarn

Lookin' good :)

Not much bleeding right out of the pot :)'s a bit brown :(

Overdyed with 2 packets strawberry kool aid...too red :(

Overdyed again with one packet berry blue kool aid...acceptable

Crocheted into a pony with some purple hair (as requested) by Serena.

Where does the "yarn barf" come in, you ask? I've heard this term used for crazy-looking thick & thin yarn made by newbie spinners. And also seen it used to describe knitted objects that are not looking very attractive. However, I'm using it in another way. "Yarn Barf" is how I would describe the atrocious smell that came from my crockpot as I was over-dyeing (both times). Now granted I did the over-dyes right away and did not dry the yarn in between so maybe that contributed to it. But my guess is that it was the OVER-cooked black raspberries exacting their revenge. I conditioned the yarn & lanolized it lightly with some lavender and eucalyptus oil and now it finally doesn't smell repulsive anymore :)

1 comment:

Noelle said...

Ohhhhh, I learned the hard way about dyeing with plants. Mine was beets - the water was such a lovely ruby red after I cooked the beets, why not dye some yarn?? It started out looking red, but then turned orange/brown. Not a bad color, but not anything like what I was hoping for. Of course since I tend to do this kind of stuff backwards I then did some research on this (on Ravelry of course) and found that natural red dyes are pretty unstable and that beet dye will actually wash out over time (yeah, right - but not out of that white blouse your kid smeared beet mush on). So, I had the same experience as you, just haven't gotten around to over-dyeing, which is what I'll be doing with that beet yarn.