Jobo Designs

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

3. May 2009 12:16
by Jobo

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!

2. March 2009 14:30
by Jobo

Natural Dyeing Series... Onion Skins - Part 2

2. March 2009 14:30 by Jobo | 2 Comments

After waiting days (yes seriously, it takes wool that long to dry out!) I finally got to play with the rest of my experimental onion wool. 

I found when I was rinsing the wool, I found that quite a bit of my colouring had come out... I don't think I had heated the dye bath enough for all of the dye to become adhered and colourfast.  Next time I will spend more time making sure things have been heated thoroughly.  This time I was worried about felting the wool, but next time I won't be so fussy.

Here is the resulting braid... the colour is a peachy gold colour.  Think the colour of hardwood floor... aka it matches mine perfecrtly!  the same light golds, and darker golds of wood grain.

During the dying process I had tried to leave some areas light and make some darker, just so the finished yarn would have some more variation and depth.  Here are some more gratuitous drafted top pictures.


And then... the fun part - the Spinning.  I started out wanting to make something sock weight, or fingering weight, but realized that I didn't really have enough top prepared to make anything substantial.  So I decided to make a basic two ply, which ended up at around light fingering to fingering weight.  Maybe I'll knit a scarf or something out of it.  This is the nicest merino top I have come across, so it is a real dream to spin... good thing I have about 10 lbs of it left upstairs in my studio... lol

It was fun to see the varied shades of peach and gold fly by in long stretches

I wound the singles into a centre pull ball and left them to sit for a few hours, to let the twist mellow out of course.

Then plied from the inside and outside of the ball to get a thin 2-ply... here it is on the niddy noddy

and finally... finished skein!  ta-daa!


26. February 2009 22:54
by Jobo

Natural Dyeing Series... Onion Skins

26. February 2009 22:54 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Hi Ho... This is Kermit theeee Frog Here...

Um, oops, I mean, Newsflash! Tonight I decided that it was officially time to try out this natural wool dyeing thing. I have been reading about it for a while, and a few weekends ago, in a moment of wool-weakness, I purchased about 10 lbs of a delightful combed Merino Top... so here we go! From the online reading I've done, it seems that one of the simplest and most straightforward dyes that one can find in ones kitchen is Onion Skin. Depending on the minerals present in the water, and what mordants are used, Onion skin can create dyes that vary from olive greens, to deeper oranges and browns. At home we cook with onions very regularly, in fact I use an onion for most meals... so I started saving the skins some time back. The end result of my onion addiction - about 2 8 ounce jars of chopped onion skins, yellow and red onions in the mix.

From what I have learned so far, it takes a large quantity of natural material to make enough dye to really colour anything.  One reference said you need 50g of onion skin to dye about 100 g of wool.  I'm not sure if I had quite that much, but it felt like a lot.  One of these days I will manage to buy one of those kitchen scales, and then maybe i can be more exact with my measurements.  For the wool, I just held up the roving against another 3.5 oz roving I had in my stash. (Not very scientific at all! I know...)

After chopping up the skins into tiny pieces (yay scissors)  I added them to a pot of boiling water and simmered on the stove over low heat for about 1 hour, then left it to steep for about 30 minutes.  This is the colour that came out:

The resulting colour kind of reminds me of orange kool-aid, though it came out more like a pumpkin orange on the wool itself.  I was really surprised, since I thought I would end up with more of a yellowish beige colour, more like the yellow onions themselves.

At this point, I let the dye cool down a bit.  My wool had been soaking in hot tap water (which in our house is quite warm, but not quite boiling)  and when the dye had gotten cool enough to stop steaming, I poured it into the bottom of a glass/pyrex 9 x 13 inch pan.  Then I carefully added the pre-soaked (in water and white vinegar) wool and swirled the pan a little to allow the dye to mix with the wool.

Using a microwave method, I loosely placed some plastic wrap over the top of the pan, allowing some space for vents.  Then I nuked the whole thing for 2 mintues, then rested on the countertop for 2 minutes.  I repeated this for a total of 6 minutes nuking, and 6 minutes resting, then I let the whole thing return to room temperature, and rinsed the wool.  After the Rinsing, some of the colour seemed to leach, leaving a peachy orange on the natural wool.  I would imagine that if the wool was pure white, the end result would have been very peach, and less orange.

I saved a small sample of the dye so I could try an experiment in "exhaust" dying over the weekend.  The whole principle of exhaust dying is that if you place fiber in the dye and then remove it before the entire amount of dye has been absorbed into the fiber, then there is a portion left... and you can dye a second fiber, and so on until the amount of dye in the liquid is completely used up.  The resulting dyes should have gradually lightening colours.  We shall see anyways.

Pictures of rinsed and dried wool to come later in the week... along with maybe some spun pictures too?  time will tell...  stay tuned!

Part 2

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