Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

3. May 2009 12:16
by Jobo
3 Comments

Natural Dyeing Series... Blueberries

3. May 2009 12:16 by Jobo | 3 Comments

Yet another installment of Dyeing with household items...

We had a bag of leftover, quite freezerburnt blueberries left in the back of the deep-freeze... so I thought hey, since we wouldnt be eating them, why not try out their dark purpley goodness for dyeing!

I unfortunately did not measure anything.... I think I had about 2 cups of frozen berries.  I basically defrosted them at room temperature, then added about 2 cups of water and then gently simmered in a heavy bottomed pot for about an hour.  I squished the berries with a wooden spoon to help all the color come out.

I actually had considered blending it, but decided against it last minute (nightmares of tiny pieces of blueberry skin all over my nice Polwarth top) I wasn't sure if Blueberry dye required acidity to set, so I added about 3 tablespoons of Lemon Juice, since I had some in the fridge anyways.  To be honest, the kitchen smelled very much of blueberry pie.  I seriously had to fight the urge to go out and buy a pie and decimate it.

About 30 minutes into the simmering process, the water level looked low, so I added about another cup of water.

To drain the blueberries, I scooped them up into a metal sieve and squeezed as much juice as possible out with the back of a spoon.  I ended up with approximately 1.5 cups of very dark Purple/Black looking liquid (and about a half a cup of blueberry mush)  Looking at the colour of the liquid in the glass, I wasn't sure if I would en up with a more reddish dye than purple.  You can see around the edges where the light shines through the glass it looks almost vibrand red, with almost no blue in it. 



I pre-soaked about 1.5 ounces of Polwarth super soft roving/top by soaking in warm water and lemon juice for about an hour, then squeezed out the excess water and layed it out in a glass pyrex dish in a single layer.  Then I poured the dark liquid over the wool and gently swirled the dish to mix.  Surprisingly, once poured over the wool, the dye looked less red that I had imagined it would.  Notice the little bits of blueberry shrapnel in the wool.  I was very pleased that those bits rinsed away in the wash



I then covered the glass dish with plastic wrap, and nuked in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes, followed by resting for about 2 minutes.  I repeated about 6 or so cycles, swishing the wool around every so often so the dye would take more often.  I would estimate the wool stayed hot enough (just below boiling) for about 60 - 90 minutes.  Next I let it cool and soak in its juice overnight before rinsing in the sink in lukewarm water.



The resulting colour was quite a medium dusty purple! after carefully wringing out the excess water and rolling in an old towel... the wool dried overnight, and I got this:



And it looked so good with the tea dyed wool from the other day... I had to braid them together!



Hmmmm... all this talk of pie and tea... making me HUNGRY!  gotta go!

25. April 2009 20:47
by Jobo
1 Comments

Natural Dyeing Series... Black Tea

25. April 2009 20:47 by Jobo | 1 Comments

and you say it's only available in Atlantic Canada?  Pity Ma'am...

The next colourful substance in my series on Natural Dying is Black Tea.

 

I had some older Red Rose teabags in the back of the Cupboard (since I prefer Earl Grey, the plain stuff seems to sit for quite a while) so I decided to grab some more wool, and give it a try.



For my dye bath I took a stainless steel pot (the same one I use to brew my tea for homemade Iced Tea actually... but thats another story)  and added 2 cups of boiling water to 5 regular sized tea bags.  Keeping the temperature hovering around boiling, I left the bags to steep for about an hour.  Resulting liquid - very dark brown tea.

For the wool - I used some polwarth top I had laying around... I had bought a pound of the stuff, and then played with a bunch of it and then forgot about it.  Well, time to enjoy it again!

I soaked the wool in lukewarm water for about 1 hour (while the tea steeped) and added in some lemon juice.  I don't know if tea needs acidity to dye or not, but I figured that since I had a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, it really couldn't hurt anything could it?  For this experiment I did not mordant the wool... mostly since I did not have anything mordant-able in the house.

 

I laid out the wool in a single layer in a glass pyrex baking dish, after squeezing out most of the water first.  Then I carefully poured the now cooled extra strong tea over the wool.  My goal was a semi solid dye, so I added the dye in a blotchy pattern and then swirled the dish to distribute.  Then I covered the dish with plastic wrap and chucked the whole thing in the microwave and nuked on high for 2 minutes.  I followed the same method as my last dyeing attempt - cycles of 2 minutes cooking, 2 minutes resting, and of course waiting for a longer interval when it looked like the water around the wool was boiling.  I continued in this manner for several cycles, and unfortunately lost count after 5.  Basically I kept the wool hot enough to almost boil for around an hour.

Then I left the wool to soak in the dye overnight.  (it was bedtime, so I hit the pillow instead!)

The next day after work (soaking approximately 20 hours or so) I removed the wool from the dye solution and rinsed carefully in cool water in the sink.  After 3-4 rinses the wool no longer released dye when squeezed.  Of course all the rinsing and swishing were done carefully so as to avoid felting, though since this was all done at a cool temperature, I wasn't really all that worried :)

Next, the soggy wool was drained, squeezed out and rolled in an old towel to absorb as much liquid as possible.  I learned my lesson last time:  if you don't *really* try and get out as much liquid as you can... the Wool takes like THREE whole days to dry.  This means you won't be able to play with it for three days.  totally uncool!.  This time the wool dried on the mesh sweater dryer in a day.  Much much faster.  Point for me!  (wool 0 ; Jobo 1)

The colour?  kind of a brownish caramel gold.  My technique of pouring and swirling (very technical huh?) resulted in a varied semi-solid colouring, which looks like it will have a nice depth when spun up.  I am actually thinking of blending this with some other wool I dyed... which I'm sure will be another blogging project at some point.

The finished braid (set against a nice blue faux suede pillow off my couch!) is a warm comfy beige colour.  I think I would wear a sweater in that colour, since it would probably be complimentary next to my freckles!



Another view of the Braid showing some more dark/light sections of the wool

15. March 2009 11:00
by Jobo
1 Comments

Dyeing Series... Wilton's Icing Colours... to dye wool?

15. March 2009 11:00 by Jobo | 1 Comments

Another installment of Jobo-learns-to-dye-wool... this time with Wilton's Icing Dyes.

I do have more plans to continue learning to dye with natural items, but happened to have icing dyes already at home, and since they are nontoxic I didn't have to worry about using my everyday cooking equipment to do some playing around.  I think I would like to try using some other kinds of dyes, but at this point, I'm not sure if I will like dyeing well enough to run out and buy pots and pans and spoons and tongs etc.  My family is on the lookout for old enamel or stainless pots for me, but until I hit the flea markets this summer I plan on sticking with food item dyes with no major mordants or with things like icing colours.  If all goes well, I might try out acid dyes later on in the year.

Using more of the merino top I have hanging around the house... I prepared an approximately 3-4 ounce rope by soaking for about 4-6 hours in a water and lemon juice solution.  (Basically a big glass mixing bowl of water with a couple of glugs of lemon juice.  I decided to use lemon juice instead of vinegar this time after the uncool odour last time (I agree with "Knitting in the Free World", wet sheep + vinegar smell really is a buzz kill) During the soaking, I prepared the kitchen table for the dyeing process:  I laid down newspaper first, then a plastic tablecloth, then 2 layers of plastic wrap.  I was afraid of ruining the oak table, so maybe that was overkill, but I think thats okay :)  I squeezed out the excess water from the wool gently, trying not to overdo it, and then laid it out in a squiggle on the plastic wrap.

Some references I looked at recommended a certain amount of dye per ounce of wool, or weighing things out.  Of course I don't have a kitchen scale yet, so I decided to just wing it and not worry too much about how dark the colours would be, just to go with it and have fun.  So added 1/4 teaspoon of the icing colour gels to approximately 1/2 cup of water in some glass containers and stirred well to dissolve.  I also let them cool to room temperature because my wool was not soaked in hot water.  I really wanted to avoid felting it by brushing on really hot water.  For my colours I chose a basic yellow, and sky blue.  I was hoping for some greens where the two colours mixed. Gotta love that colour wheel theory!  I will have to do a post sometime on colour theory :) 


** note also in the background:  Natural Dyeing, by Jackie Crook (One of the first books I bought on the subject!) **

So, when the colours cooled off I gave them one more stir and then started blobbing them on. (wear gloves!  or you will end up with coloured hands!  I used cheap children's paintbrushes from the dollar store)   It was really hard to tell what the whole thing would look like in the end.  The liquid dyes seemed to soak into the wool, kind of like painting a sponge.  I tried to alternate the blue and yellow, leaving some whiter spaces in between some segments so that the colours could remain pure, and placing them almost on top of each other in other places so that the colours could mingle and make some greenish sections.  I know that when I spin handpainted rovings, I enjoy watching the colours slide by in my hands and meld and mix before my eyes... so I wanted to have all of those wonderful surprises from my own braid.  Some spinners consider white space to be an amateurish quality in a handpainted product, but I kind of like the contrast that a "controlled quantity" of white space can add.  I guess for me the bottom line is:  the white has to look like you left it there on purpose!  not like you just missed a section with your dye. 


** next time I will buy a lighter colour plastic tablecloth... red was hard to visualize your colours on top of **

after painting the wool, which took a surprisingly long time, and 2 refills of the blue dye, I carefully nudged the wool lengths together and wrapped them up with the plastic wrap, sealing the edges as much as possible.  Then I laid out the roving carefully in a glass baking dish (9x9 inch) and then microwaved the wool on high for 2 minutes, then rested for 2 minutes.  I repeated the process about 3 cycles of heat and cooling before the wool looked like it was "steaming" inside the plastic.  I was again worried about felt.... so I let it rest for about 15 minutes and then restarted the 2 minutes heat 2 minutes cooling for 2 more cycles.  This gave me a total of about 10 minutes in the microwave, and took about 45 minutes or so.  I think my microwave might be a bit hot so maybe 1 min 30 sec would have been enough at a time for the heat setting.

I let the wool cool to room temperature (a few hours) then rinsed it in the kitchen sink.  Surprisingly, very little of the colour leeched out.  I only needed 3 rinses and the 3rd was very clear.  I gently squeezed out water from the wool and spread it out to dry on my "sweater dryer" frame... which is great for drying just about anything!

Then the hard part... waiting until the wool is dry enough to play with.  I wish it were summertime and the drying conditions were better :(

2 days later: I got this :) 

Finished braid:  Lemons, limes and blue sky

I'm not sure how lightfast or colourfast wool is after dyeing with the icing gels, but I really had fun :)  and I'm pretty sure that I will be interested in doing some more dying.  Love the vibrant colours, and the process of playing with colour.

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