Tutorial

Natural Dying Experiment – Spinach and Spices

Lately I’ve been really interested in dying my own roving, especially since I received a bunch of natural merino (maybe?) roving for my b-day last year. I’m most interested in using natural dye stuff, especially if I can forage for it, but it is the middle of winter and I’m restricted to using things I find in my fridge or pantry. Commercially available natural dyes are just not in the budget right now. Plus, I’m really into foraging. And I’m cheap. 

 I began my experiment by gathering some baby spinach that was languishing in the back of the fridge. I didn’t bother weighing it because it probably wasn’t enough, but I’ll use more next time. I put that in a pan with water to cover and brought it to a boil. Once it began boiling, I turned it to simmer and let that go for a time. Not very scientific, I know. Finally I turned it off and just let it sit over night. 

The next morning, I began by preparing my fiber and my mordant. I weighed out 2 oz. of fiber and put it to soak in a bowl of warm water. Doing this helps it to take the dye more evenly. I was really surprised how much air is trapped in between all of the fibers! I pushed it down gently to get it submerged, taking care not to jostle it too much. 

Next, I strained the spinach, squeezing it in a kitchen towel to wring out every last drop of liquid. I brought that to a boil and added .3oz of alum (15% of the weight of the fiber), stirred to dissolve, and let it cool. I laid the roving in and sprinkled a thick layer of turmeric in a few places.  I turned it to a simmer, let that work for awhile and then turned it off and let it set overnight. 

In the morning, all that was left to do was rinse well with cold water, gently squeeze out the water, and roll in a towel to remove most of the water. Then I hung it high enough to not tempt the cats and waited for it to dry. 

Honestly, it turned out more subtle than I was anticipating, but still liked it. The spinach gave it a tinge of yellow, but the turmeric gave it a nice pop of bright yellow. I’m glad I added it. I love that I made something out of ingredients I had in my kitchen and I that it didnt have to worry about dumping chemicals down the drain. 

All in all it was a satisfying project. For as long as it took it would have been more worth my while to dye a lot more wool, but I didn’t have enough dye stuff. Recently I had a friend give me some fresh turmeric root and I’m looking forward to using that for a dyeing project. 

Thanks for stopping by to read about my  natural dyeing project. I look forward to experimenting with more natural dyes and sharing the results. Do you have a favorite dyeing project?

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