Dye and Scarf Progress 3

You might have guessed from the previous 2 posts that I had been thinking about whether I want to dye the spun yarn before knitting or leaving it natural.  The natural is pretty, but I’m not one to let an opportunity to play with natural colors pass. Part of the scarf competition rule is that if you are going to dye, it has to be with natural dyes. Yes, I have a whole kit of Earthues dye powders, but to keep in theme of the whole process it yourself, I wanted to gather the dye materials myself. (I even eyed my crop of horsetails up on Whidbey for the possibility of chartreuse. Too early in the season.)

I started to scan Ravelry’s Plants to Dye For discussion group, and I came across an intriguing discussion on using soak water from black beans to dye fabric. Hmm. But is it stable? I didn’t think it could be. I’ve seen the purplish water that I strain off. None of the books I have talks about it (not that it’s definitive, but it does provide some jumping off points). My guess is that it is transient at best. But what do I have to lose?

I started a pound of beans to soak as I finished spinning up my yarn. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish before the bean water started to ferment just a little. (It was left out on the counter because I didn’t have room in the refrigerator and the weather got HOT!) I wasn’t too worried. But I decided to strain it off and heat it up a bit to stop the process of whatever it was happening in the solution. That was my first clue that the dye isn’t stable. The starch and protein in the soaking water starts to break down, and that lovely dark blue purple also disintegrated into a dull brown.

I still wasn’t willing to give up on it. I put a skein in (alum premordant) and brought it to a simmer then let it sit over night. The results were extremely disappointing. Brown. And it rinsed out. I think I had to rinse it about 10 times before it rinsed clear. And now it’s back to the same color as it was before.

For which I am glad. Now I can start over without the need to spin up more yarn.

The skein is sitting in yet another alum bath right now in preparation for a hazelnut dye bath.

I gathered about 150 grams of hazelnut leaves and shredded it with my hands, as I would with salad greens, and let it sit in water yesterday. Since it was over 90+F yesterday, and the pot was in the sun, it got pretty warm in the pot. The whole pot was simmered for a couple of hours last night and let cool overnight.  It’s strained and now ready for the fiber.

Dye Notes:

  • alum: ~30%
  • hazelnut leaves: 2:1 wof

Progress Report:

  • All yarn spun.
  • First skein: spun from flicked locks on drop spindle, plied on Schacht Matchless. 30 grams/154 yards. 32 wpi.
  • Second skein: spun from combed fiber was spun on my Bosworth Featherweight and plied on a larger spindle.  45 grams/170 yards. 24 wpi.
  • Sample knitting still progressing well, but not yet completed. Put aside for now to focus on spinning and dyeing.
  • Deb Menz workshop spinning: 60% complete.

One thought on “Dye and Scarf Progress 3”

  1. I, too, had followed that thread about black bean dyes. I recalled that, at one time, there was some scandal about black beans being dyed to make them uniform in color, or cheaper white beans were dyed to make them sell for more. I wondered if the widely varying results people reported might be caused by something like this. I’m glad you gave it a try, so I don’t have to!

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