Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dye! Dye! With Ragweed.

Ragweed yarn in ammonia.  Pretty.

Party Of One?  I had a good time anyway, and I didn't have to share my dyestuffs - which is both good and bad.  Good because I got to dye more of my stuff.  Bad because it's always fun to share with friends.  Ah well, "stuff" happens (like fall colds, getting called into work, and over-booking)... I really don't smell that bad... really.

I've been collecting dyestuffs all last year & this summer, and I've been spinning like mad to get enough yarn to dye up.  At 1/2 lb. I decided to cave in and mordant a bunch of yarn in alum, and cook up the weeds!
I use a "divide by 4" equation to figure out how much mordant to fiber I need. 

To make it easy:
1 lb. of wool = 16 oz.
16 divided by 4 = 4 oz. alum
2 tbsp = 1 oz. alum
4 x 2 = 8 tbsp alum into mordant water per lb. of fiber.
(or something like that)

In no particular order... 

In this case, it's literally a weed: Ragweed.

We cut the weeds in early summer (June), which was a little late to be doing that for a "young plant" but I swear they didn't grow until then!  Supposedly the color they give you is "olive green"... um, yeah... but with no info on what mordants, what fibers, hot/cold, how long, after-mordants, etc. it was impossible to tell how the claim of "olive green" came about.  Anyway, I didn't get olive green, I got golden yellow, which is quite lovely - as you can see.

Itch.  Itch.  Itch.
I ended up drying the ragweed in my solar dehydrator, because despite having 180 acres to roam about on, much of it farm fields; I couldn't for the life of me find more than a few plants of this over-abundant weed anywhere but right on the doorstep.  So it's dried, labeled & somehow got a lock of wool stuck in with it.

Itchy bag

It smelled soooooo good.

I was smart enough to wrap this batch of dyestuffs up in gauze (unlike the comfrey, which I'm still picking out of the yarn), so when I pulled the bag out of the "tea" there was very little straining that had to be done.  One paper towel in a colander took care of the escapees.
1 hr. of boiling extracted a good amount of dyestuffs, and I set the rest aside to see what I would get, (I later boiled it a 2nd time with fresh water for another hour & combined all that for another batch that is only a little weaker than the first - it's in a milk jug, carefully labeled, right now).  I can tell you that the kitchen smelled like the best tea you've ever tasted.  It was amazing.  No, I didn't taste it.

yarn simmering in ragweed dye

In went my trial hank of wool yarn, which I simmered for 1 hour then let it sit overnight because there wasn't much initial color change.  GOOD decision.

overnight color
When I pulled it out, it was a rather... eeh...ok-sorta-yellow-ish color.  Much better than it was the night before anyway.

stinky after-mordant
But it just smelled like it needed to go into ammonia, or something like that.  (I was still hoping for a cool green at this point).

Ragweed dyed yarn - wet.  It got more golden as it dried.
What I got was this totally awesome yellow-gold!  Spiffy. 
It's more gold/orange now as it dries.

So, in short, here's the Ragweed Recipe:
1 gal. bag dried ragweed in gauze bag, simmer/boil 1 hr.
Remove bag & strain.
Add hank of alum-mordant yarn.
Boil/simmer 1 hr.  Let cool & sit overnight.
Remove & drain yarn.
After-mordant in ammonia & cold water mixture.  Dunk a few times.
Rinse in cold water.
Spin out & hang or lay to dry.


Gwendolyn said...

Beautiful color, Gail. Sorry it was a party of one. Wish I could have joined you!

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

That's OK G.
Seems like all of us are getting hit with trials & tribulations lately.