Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dyeing Red Coats

Spinning classes have started again for my next level in the course. And since this is fall, we did some dyeing again, using natural dyes.

This time, we used only one dye-pot and with the addition of a couple mordants, and modifiers, we were able to get 25 different shades! Doesn't that just blow your mind? There are so many variables that can give you different results, so we wanted to explore all of them, and make note of the effects. This way, we can have a better idea of what we can obtain, should we follow a couple of steps. Quite fun!

We used cochineal, which is a pregnant bug. Honest!! These are already dead, and dried, and we just ground them up to make more of the dye available, and then cooked it for a bit to get all the colour out of them. We had pre-mordanted our small wool skeins in a couple of different mordants, and then dropped them all into the pot. After about an hour, we removed and rinsed them, and then dropped a few of them into other pots with a few different modifiers to get all these lovely colours.

I was told that cochineal was used to dye the red coats of the British forces during the British-American war. I was rather disappointed when I didn't get any red! The dye in the pot was a glorious rich red... and yet it didn't come out that way in the wool. Another lesson learned! The mordants and the modifiers each had their effect, and the result is a wide range of shades in the reddish-purple-maroon range. Nice, but not quite what I was expecting. Ah -- the joys of nature dyeing!

Here, you see the pre-mordanted skeins just before they went into the dye-pot. (some people will take a pic of anything, won't they?)

And here, I'll show you a few of the skeins I got, and once I get them all displayed properly, will show you them again, but more organized. These are all my handspun yarns, a 3-ply all done on my CD spindle.

The weather has been absolutely wonderful this week! Well, not quite. The weatherman had predicted +21 on Tuesday. Of course, he was wrong. But today was probably that high! The sun was shining, and it was too warm for a jacket at noon, or on the way home after work. I kind of like this fall weather, if it stays this way! However, Hallowe'en is next week, and we have had all that white stuff around in other years. Weather here can change in the wink of an eye, so I have no idea what we might yet get. Stay tuned!

Edit: Thursday 10:36 pm
I looked out the window. Remember that white fluffy stuff I mentioned earlier? Yep, it's here!

1 comment:

Emily said...

Beautiful colours. I wonder how red a red the redcoats really had? In films it's always very bright, but...

Terribly impressed (as a totally neophyte barely started spinner) that this is handspun yarn. SO even.