Sunday, 24 July 2011

Solar Dyeing Addendum

I was thinking about Helen's comment about how she uses glass jars and sometimes leaves them as long as a year.   I realized that perhaps climate has something to do with the methods we choose when using similar techniques such as solar dyeing.    Our winters are on the harsh side.   They are cold and can be long.   Our first frosts come in September.  We can have snow, which stays as early as November.   I have a high/low thermometer in the greenhouse and during the winter, there is little advantage even there.  If it is -15C outside, it is -15C in the greenhouse. I've only vaguely thought about using glass jars.  Large ones are hard to find these days and I would have to bring them inside during the winter.  If I were to leave a full glass jar outside, it would likely crack from the frozen liquid expanding, unless I was certain to leave enough space in the jar.  Even then I'd worry about it just from the freezing and thawing that might take place at various times, from temperature fluctuations.

   Even our summer weather can be erratic.  We're having extreme and unusually hot weather, but often we get very warm days and cool nights.  I was doing some Indigo fermentation one year, starting early in June to take advantage of a few really early, warm days.  I had 2 white buckets and one which was blue and white.   After the 2 warm days, I noticed that the water in the buckets had cooled down noticeably.  The outside of the buckets were almost cool.     In thinking about this, I sat down on some plastic bags of top soil and compost and found that it was hot, very hot in places, which were the black writing.   I immediately spray painted my buckets black and a few hours later, the water was steamy warm.   I'll have to do some checking on water temps.  

Bettina -  my regular old water is well water.  Our water is fairly heavy in iron, so we filter it somewhat.  Not sure about the hardness factor.  I don't think it's super hard, but at least is free from chlorine.


Helen said...

Hi last year I lost 5 pots because I forgot about then and in the every hard winter we had they froze and five broke so you are right there. A friend of mine keeps them on a sunny windowsill for a year . she rinse them out in the spring to start new ones. However you don't need to keep them for a year only till you can't see the colour developing any more. However we are having a spell of hot weather (for us) so if I get a chance I will try your method.
Thanks for posting!

Sharon said...

I'm not inclined to try solar dyeing for the very same reason!

Woolly Bits said...

I am lucky - tap water is rainwater, so very soft - but drinking water is well water from the valley - very hard! I only use the hard water for madder dyes, because otherwise I'd have to carry up loads to the house:)) you can increase hardness though by adding lime/chalk - far easier than taking out the lime, if you need soft water:))
you could of course just bury some glass jars in the hot compost during summer? my porch/back glasshouse don't go below zero, so I am lucky that I can keep stuff frostfree there - but I'd worry too much about mould to leave the stuff for that long anyway. the longest solar dyeing for me was 4 weeks - which worked ok, despite the lack of heat. but you can actually build a "hot-box" yourself - I think there were instructions in a spin-off some years back???

Leena said...

Hi Nina, I use big black buckets in the greenhouse in the summer for madder and it works fine even if the temp of the vat is between 18-25C, (the lower temp is in the nights) and I usually get good reds in 10-14 days, once I kept the yarns in the vat for four weeks and din't notice much change, so now I keep them only for two weeks.
I also use glass jars and the temperature goes higher in them in sunny days, and cochineal works in them, but I do get darker colors from cochineal in a normal hot vat.
I always empty my jars in good time before frosts, because they are too cool anyway to dye properly in September.

It will be interesting to see how your vats worked:)