I’ve just ordered some undyed yarn. One whole kilogram of undyed yarn. I know that’s not a lot for most dyers, but for those of us just considering dipping our toes into natural dyeing it’s a significant amount. I’ve ordered some double knit superwash merino and some baby alpaca, silk and linen 4 ply. I know that the combination yarn will be a challenge but I’m happy for some of the fibres to take up colour and others not to. I may regret this – but if it’s a disaster I can stick with the natural colour that it comes in.
I was prompted to do this by a promotion from Bluefaced.co.uk who sell undyed wool for both retail and wholesale customers. They had a short one week campaign called ‘Sample it’ where you can buy wool/yarn in 500g batches to try it out for yourself. I was very tempted to splash out and get a good few Kg but then common sense prevailed and I stuck to just the one (Kg).
I’ve done lots of research since then and will need a steel pot to do the dyeing – I thought you could use aluminium but apparently this is a big no no. I’ll also need alum and cream of tartar to act as a mordant (makes the dye stick to the fibres) so I will see if I can source these locally. I think my first experiments will be to try red cabbage and probably safflower – I got some by mistake when planning a paella and thought it was the same as saffron – it isn’t. If this doesn’t work, I’ll stick to the more commonly recommended onion skins and see how they turn out.
I have some plans for the wool once it’s dyed – or in the case of the mixed fibre, not dyed. I always have more plans than I can physically produce so am fortunate in that regard. I have often had to abandon what I thought was a fantastic idea, once the reality of swatching has proved it not to work as I anticipated. Even though these are ‘failures’ I like the process and usually can find an alternative route to my idea, or just put it to one side for consideration at a later date.
So my dye pot should be arriving next week and I’ll photograph the process – hopefully it won’t be too disastrous!