A day to dye for (sorry)…

Thursday saw our annual dyeing picnic at a cottage belonging to one of our members, and it also saw one of the hottest days of the year. It’s always a day to look forward to, and the weather just made it even more enjoyable – in fact, if anything it was too hot (shush). But we were there to do some serious dyeing, not sunbathe:

what to do

This year we were space dyeing, and it was all planned out – as you can see, all natural dyes. Having the list was wonderful; every so often, when we lost track of where we were or wondered how we had produced a particular combination, we only had to look up.

For those of us who hadn’t tried space dyeing before, or who had only done half-and-half dips, first came a very clear explanation of how to dip in thirds – which most of us would have got wrong had we done it instinctively. Then we wetted the skeins we had brought with us and the dyeing began.

One of the first pots ready was the weld, which rapidly began to produce a rather startling yellow (and an even more startling smell),

weldIt’s always good to start with a really impressive colour change, and soon the other dyepots were bubbling away.

We were also trying different modifiers, like washing soda

washing sodaand a copper and ammonia mixture in old sweet jars, which looked rather like Cousin It from The Addams Family once all our skeins were dangling in the even more vile-smelling liquid:

Cu ammoniaOne of the more unusual dyebaths was the lichen in ammonia. The winter’s storms, which were so bad around us – hurricane force winds on more than one day – had an unexpected benefit, in that a lot of the trees which came down had abundant lichens, and some could be harvested legitimately as a result.

lichen dyebathThese skeins have (mostly) been in the madder + iron dye, and then in the corn marigold bath.

All our skeins were gradually finished and hung up to dry off, which they did very quickly indeed in the warmth and sun; there was even a helpful breeze. Perfect weather for dyeing.

We don’t all dye; quite a few of our members bring their knitting and come for the enjoyment of the day. Everyone gathered round, however, to see the finished skeins spread out (the pink, by the way, is cochineal – with an alum mordant you get lilac, but without one, it’s pretty pink):

skeinsHuge thanks to our two members who starred on the day – one for lending us the space, and one for lending us her experience and leading us through the processes.

There is always so much to take in, and we don’t always get a good luck at other people’s work. So here’s a quick gallery / slideshow – just (as usual) click on an image to access the slideshow.



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