Knitting and a Movie

This is yet another knitting blog

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Oxalis stricta

Called Wood Sorrel or Gaukas˙ra, when I was little we used to eat the pods of this plant. They are sort of lemon-flavoured. (Isn't it amazing what random things one eats when one is small?)


I decided to try to try dyeing with it, here's what I got:


At first, I didn't like the beigey colour, but it kind of grew on me over time, there is something fun and old-fashioned about it.

For colour reference, here it is next to the Polygonum perscicaria yarn (the more green one) and goldenrod yarn from a few years ago (the gold colour).



I took out some dye books from the library this week:
Natural Dyes Plants & Processes by Jack Kramer
Craft of the Dyer: Colour from Plants and Lichens by Karen Leigh Casselman
Create Your Own Natural Dyes by Kathleen Schultz
The Investigative Method of Natural Dyeing by Frederick H Gerber

Most of them had pretty much the same standard info as other natural dye books I have read: information about madder, information about indigo, etc. The one by Karen Leigh Casselman I found to be the most interesting; I think I would like a copy of it myself. She lists many different dye plants (including acorns!) and how to use them, and what kind of lightfastness she got from them.

I've also been "steeping" some copper pipe in ammonia for a couple of weeks, this is an old dye called copper penny blue. I plan to overdye one of the yellows with this at some point.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Weed Play

I had these weeds growing in my yard, they reminded me of Japanese Indigo and I thought maybe I can do something with them:


As a Girl Scout, I always won the plant identification contest, I enjoyed poring through books to find the match. So I used Google and identified these as Polygonum Persicaria, in English smartweed (among other names: Redshank, Lady's thumb, Heartweed), in Icelandic flˇajurt, in Norwegian h°nsegras. (It's really interesting to me how sometimes weeds have so many names, this one even has two different Latin names, the other one is Persicaria maculata.)

Lots of sources said you could dye with these, and it would be yellow, including a Norwegian site given me by someone on the Natural Dyeing list which said the Vikings used this. (Too bad it's not THAT closely related to Indigo!) I also found in one of my books that it suggests drying them and then making a solution and letting it ferment... so I have dried some of the plants (240g) that I picked to see how that goes. But these ones I tried fresh. First I made the dye solution of 288g of fresh plants (stems, leaves, and flowers), by bringing them up to a simmer and simmering around 2 hours.



Then I tried two things. I was going for variegated yarn, so I put 1 Tbsp baking soda in one jar, and left one alone. I stuck one end of my skein (86g) in one jar, the other end in the other jar, and put the jars into the dye bath. I didn't get so vibrant a colour, because the yarn was crowded in the jars. I would love to hear a better solution for this. Anyway, the baking soda end came out more golden-brownish, and the regular end came out more greenish, and here's my swatch:



I then tried a skein (78g) just straight into the dye bath, like normal:

It's definitely a deeper yellow than the Lily of the Valley one.

All yarn here is mordanted with alum (I mordanted while dyeing). Both skeins I cooked around 2 hours, I believe, and let soak in the bath overnight. I'll post again when I try the dried leaves.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

White Coral Bells

I have a lot of lily of the valley growing in my garden:


So I decided to cut it up and put it in a dye pot:


I cooked it and let it sit overnight. Then I strained out (and discarded) the leaves and put yarn that had been mordanted with alum into the pot. I cooked that for a couple of hours, until it looked ready, then I left it overnight. I washed it out in the morning, and let it dry:


Now I have some pretty yellow sock yarn. Not sure yet what I will use it for.


NOTE: Lily of the valley is highly toxic to eat. I used all separate non-cooking utensils for this project. Some people on the Natural Dyeing list even said not to use it at all, but it's only poisonous for eating, not for touching or breathing. I didn't use gloves to handle it, but I probably should have and then I wouldn't have been so paranoid about washing my hands after.

Today is the first day of Mystery Stole 3. I downloaded the pattern, but have not yet got the yarn I was going to use, so I have to wait. I am SO IMPATIENT! Signups are open for another week if anyone else wants to join it.

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