Saturday, January 13, 2007

Natural Dyes, Take II

I launched my second attempt at natural dyeing two weeks ago. I had some madder roots that I was waiting play with. Then my sister -- showing fabulous creativity and thoughtfulness -- had given me a container of dried cochineal bugs for Christmas. When she visited us in Vermont after the holidays, the timing was perfect.

This was tapas-style dyeing, with small experimental snippets rather than yarn enough for a project. We prepared 10 g mini-skeins cut from the leftovers of the last dyebaths, which enabled us to test the cochineal and madder dyebaths on yarns in the following hues: uncolored, canary yellow, golden yellow, and caramel.

It was a wildly uncontrolled, open air, over-the-campfire, time-consuming dyeing adventure. And the results? The madder yielded a light persimmon color. Paler than we wanted, and not quite as rusty-red, but quite pretty and complex. The cochineal, on the other hand, oddly gave us a dark, dull yellow, and only the scraps of yarn that tied the skeins turned the expected pink. There were so many things that could've gone wrong that I can't even begin to diagnose our problems, but it was really, really weird.

Here's a closer look: the two middle yarns show the original marigold colors, and each is flanked by samples overdyed by cochineal, on the left, and madder, on the right. The colors came out a little flat in these photos. In real life, they're much richer and more lively.

The whole enterprise feels like alchemy!!


Amy said...

At least it didn't end up grey and another dying project I've seen! Looks like fun.

Gustavo said...

The colors look beautiful even in the picture.