art · Creativity · dye · Fun · Photos · Spinning · Yarn

Back to My Beloved Dye Pots

Oof. It’s been a while since I’ve updated. Time to dive right back in, eh?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent some time with my parents in Kansas after my granddaddy’s funeral for about a month. While I was there, I dedicated some time to helping my parents sell a few things around the house to prepare them for a move that might happen sometime in the nearish future.

Now I’m back home in SF, which means that I back to my dye pots.

To start off, here are some photos that I promised a while ago of my oxalis and hibiscus dye experiments. Some of the yarn that I dyed was my own handspun (Cormo/Merino wool), and the rest is some handspun (Falkland wool) that I found in the free bin at SCRAP. I prepared all of the yarn with alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) as the mordant to set the dye color.

First, the oxalis. I had two pots simmering when I was dyeing with it. One batch (first photo) was oxalis that I picked while helping weed up at my friend’s farm in Occidental, and the other (second photo) was from a gallon of oxalis dye gifted to me by friend and teacher, Jonatha.


Both batches produced a variety of shades. I dipped about half of the hanks in a bath of baking soda after taking them out of the pot to tune down the florescence of the yellow. It actually turned a few of the hanks a lovely gold.

I LOVE the gradient of yellows that I ended up with.


That same day I also dyed a batch of handspun with some dried hibiscus flowers that I picked up at one our local grocery markets.


And the result was a sort of pale, antique maroon. I think I was in a little bit of a hurry at the time, so the yarn wasn’t in the dye pot for very long. It was probably about an hour or so. I am actually quite taken with the shade. The nice thing is if I decide later that I want a darker shade I can always dye it again.


Today, I’ve got a few pots steaming on the stove. In one pot I am mordanting a batch of yarn picked up at a thrift store and two cotton items to prep them for dyeing tomorrow.


In the other two pots, I have some bundles that I originally put together during a dye/eco printing workshop that I took this past Sunday at A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland, taught by owner, Kristine Vejar. (I will post more on the class later this week.)

The four bundles are two silk scarves, a piece of linen fabric, and a piece of wool fabric that Kristine provided pre-mordanted. She said that she used aluminum acetate to mordant the linen and potassium aluminum sulfate for the silk and wool.

I shibori wrapped the silk scarves and linen with button/craft thread onto tree branches with fresh flowers inside, including coreopsis and marigolds, and onion skins.


For the wool fabric, I shibori wrapped it with eucalyptus leaves.


All of the bundles were in the dye pot for about 1-2 hours during the class, but I took them all home to keep the process going.

After heating the silk scarves and linen for an additional two hours at home, I unwrapped and rinsed them thoroughly. Today, I added a few more flowers and petals from a bouquet that Danny gave me last week on our wedding anniversary (yay!), and I have just turned off the heat. I can’t wait to see the results!

As for the wool, it’s been on the stove for the past few days. I’ve been turning it on to let it simmer for a few hours at a time whenever I’m home. This afternoon I unwrapped it and peeked to see how things were coming along, but there was only the tiniest amount of brown/orange transferred from the eucalyptus leaves. So, determined, I wrapped it all up into a bundle again without disturbing the leaves, and this time I used a copper pipe instead of a tree branch. It’s been steaming for a the past couple of hours. So, we’ll see if it has helped at all.

Pictures of today’s labors will be posted soon!

One thought on “Back to My Beloved Dye Pots

  1. jen, wow! you are on a roll, a dying roll that is. the yellows are so vibrant. now, my question is, what do you knit that is bright yellow? winter socks? a small “throw”? whatever it is your love will show.

    and so happy you rerolled your wool in copper. to date my wool and silk that is eco dyed, does not need a pre-mordant like cotton or linen does. just wet & vinegar spray. the leaves soaked, some in iron water, and rolled in iron or copper (which acts as the mordant). i have found, as you know, that if you roll on a branch or dowel, you need to pre-soak your silk or wool in iron water. another new way that i have been playing with is to soak a strip of cotton sheet in iron water and once the leaves are layed out, cover it with the soaked material and roll/tie off/steam. no need to use a tea bath afterwards. have gotten seriously beautiful prints of grays/black/purples.

    my other thought is about the eucalyptus. in the bay area, the fall is the best time to pluck…the tanin is stronger and you can get the deep oranges and browns. i even found a smoke bush nearby and the medical center let me trim along the bottom. have to try this week-end. many ways, many ways. you are always welcome to come up and “play”. both of you! happy anniversary too. best best, jonatha

    On Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 4:24 PM, The Sensible Sheep wrote:

    > Jentacular posted: “Oof. It’s been a while since I’ve updated. Time to > dive right back in, eh? As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent > some time with my parents in Kansas after my granddaddy’s funeral for about > a month. While I was there, I dedicated some time to helpin” >


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