Sunday, 6 February 2011

Colour Experiments

Hardened Coreopsis Extract
I've been waffling about with wondering should I or shouldn't I dye the yarns for one of the Master Spinner 2 homework projects.  Finally on Friday night, I just hunkered down and started.  I was tired and when I opened the little jar of Coreopsis extract, it was a hard puck which wouldn't loosen from it's container.   After a few minutes of frustration, I tossed it back in the box and pulled out the Black Oak bark.  I was totally unscientific about this.  I'd already been soaking the fibres, so had no idea of the weight.  I tossed in a couple of teaspoons of the ground bark and started it simmering.   A bit later I tossed in some spun yarn and a hand full of wet fibre to find this gorgeous bright, clear yellow quickly take.

Extract Ground in coffee grinder
On Saturday morning, realized that I had a screwdriver and a mallet handy from assembling the little Mazurka.  It took two taps with the mallet on the screwdriver and the Coreopsis extract broke into hunks.  I'd noticed an electrical cord sticking out of a box and realized it was my coffee grinder.  I have mainly used it for pulverising Cochineal but I figured it would work well for the extract.  It took more than a couple of pulses but it was ground enough to use.  I added a scant teaspoon to the water and it turned orangy however the fibre was very pale, even after an hour of simmering.  I added a second teaspoon of Coreopsis extract but the colour only got slightly darker. 

Next I tried some Fustic.  It gave a pretty and warm yellow but now I had three colours with very little contrast, which really wasn't going to work for me.  I set it aside to dry while I pulled out the ground Lac.  Lac is another bug dye, though not the bug itself but some sort of residue it leaves behind.. Bug Poo?  Anyway, it is supposed to give nice reds and purples if you make the PH alkaline.  I'm pretty sure this is the first time that our iron heavy water affected my dyeing because no matter how I shifted the PH, I got purple or purpler.  Pretty colour but not what I was going for.  They are very pretty and springlike colours though.  Such a nice contrast to the white wonderland outside. ( 6-8 inches more heavy snow yesterday)

This morning I remembered I have bags of Marigolds in the freezer.  I used half a bag and overdyed the Fustic.  Then I tossed in a pinch of iron and another skein to get a greenish colour.  I have enough colours now to do the needlework project for the course and have it look nice.

This is some brown Shetland spun on the Mazurka.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  I'm waffling about what to make with this.  There is enough there for a warp for a scarf but it would also make a nice knitted toque.  I finished my son's mittens and nobody else needs any right now so mittens are out of the equation though it would be good mitten yarn too.  Anyway, it's too nice of a yarn to leave packed away someplace waiting for inspiration.  I guess my son could use a toque since it certainly doesn't really seem that winter is waning yet

Funny- my sweetie had to take the snow blower out to clear part of the driveway because he needed to get the truck out to go to town to get gas for the snow blower..worried that he didn't have enough gas to finish it.  With the mountain of snow left by the snowplow at the end of the driveway, even the truck wouldn't have gotten through it.


Helen said...

that's pretty well the colour I get from lac. I prefer Coreopsis in the flesh to the extracts as I find with the flower heads I geet a really good strong orange with a touch of ammonia but not with the extract . lovely colours

Woolly Bits said...

I had a good giggle about the bug poo:)) it's hard to find over here, but if I can use cochineal lice - I shouldn't mind other bug preparations too much?:)) I love the colours you get with them, no other plant comes even close... not time for dyeing though (yet), I have too many other things to do just now. and the garden - already calls for work, no snow or frost here anymore, so no excuse to not do some digging and preparing...

the shetland brown is lovely - I am sure if you make the hat - it'll keep, even if the weather is too warm to wear it by then...

Leigh said...

I love your new blog look!

It's been awhile since I've done any natural dying, so I can't remember much about results from way back then! The photo of the various colors is a pretty combination though. I wouldn't have considered putting them together for a project (not sure if you are either) but the nice thing about natural dyeing is, the colors pretty much always compliment one another.

Nina said...

Helen - I wonder if getting purples rather than reds has to do with the percentage of dye stuff, or if it is extract vs bugs. With Cochineal, you can get lovely, strong pinks with 10% wog, but to get reds I need as much as 35% wog. Could Lac be similar?

Woolly Bits - Bettina - I envy your spring already. We're slogging through snow and cold still and will be for weeks more. Spring is certainly appreciated when it comes!

Leigh - Thanks! I suddenly looked at the old blog and instead of feeling warm and cozy, it felt heavy and dark. I'm ready for spring so lightened things up a bit. These colours were to be used together for a needle point sample. They worked well enough.