Monday, 6 June 2011

Dyeing with Cutch

On Sunday, I dyed yarn for the warp which had me stymied.  I found  some yellow which had previously been dyed with Yellow Bedstraw.   It was for a sampling project and is leftover.  It's pretty close in size to the Harrisville Shetland I'd wound off and I had enough of it to finish the warp and probably do the weft of at least one of the projects.  I didn't want it yellow though.  In my stash of supplies there isn't a lot which will produce brown.   I have a few Oak galls, but not enough for this quantity and they'd require crushing and soaking.  Walnuts I normally just harvest in the autumn.  There were two little bags of Cutch though and I'd never tried it before.    It was interesting researching this dye because depending on where you check, it is suggested you use a 20% - 400% dye to fibre ratio.  That is a huge range!   I ended up using 50% Cutch by weight to the yarn and then added a second skein in for an exhaust dip.  Interestingly, they are both very close in colour.  The exhaust vat dyed yarn will be weft.

First, I weighed out the yarn and had 2 skeins, weighing 100 grams each.  I then weighed out 50 grams of Cutch resin.  It was actually 53 grams but I wasn't worried about precision with this experiment.   It seemed better to err on the side of a bit more dye than less I filled a dye pot with water.  I used the outdoor hose and it was well water.  

 Both skeins of Yellow Bedstraw went into the pot to soak while the fire was started.

I decided to dye outside for several reasons.  Cutch is supposed to time to dissolve and then the colours are reputed to be be stronger, with more undertones with long soaks.   It was hot outside and I didn't want to have the stove on all day.  We have lots of scrap firewood kicking around so keeping a fire going all day, wasn't going to be an issue.

The soaked skeins came out of the pot, the water was topped up and the Cutch added.  The pot was set over the fire and cooked until the crystals dissolved.   Then the first skein - wound warp was popped in and cooked for a few hours.   Then I added the second skein and cooked the two together.   The water did get warm, but never boiled.  It simmered over the fire from just after breakfast until supper time, when the pot was removed from the fire and set to cool.

I left the pot outside all night.  After much rinsing, this is what the final colour is.  I'm quite pleased as it will look very nice with the other two colours of the warp.


Sharon said...

Wow, you do it primitive. I use propane burners, but then I'm not in SCA either. I've discovered today that I can use some of these natural dyes in soap making. And the circle goes round....

Woolly Bits said...

I like the idea of using an open fire - only, we have had far too much rain lately:((
I've never used 400 % cutch, but I used 200 % once - and ended up with a medium brown only, and all the rest washed out:(( that's when I decided I might just as well use far less, if most of the dye rinses away anyway! I like it though because it's easy to use and to keep in storage!