Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Adventures with turmeric

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How’s that for a mood-booster? 

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That’s the most gorgeous, vivid, spicy yellow; the yellow of summer.  Sunflowers.  The bright golden haze on the meadow.  Inspiration from the fantastic Rebekka Seale led me back to my dyepot the other night, in between episodes of Pawn Stars.  Those skeins are stash leftovers in cream-colored wool (I think the darker one might be Araucania?  I don’t even know) that I dyed on the stove using turmeric.  No chemicals are used, not even vinegar or salt, just turmeric and water and a little gentle heat, and wow!  I am so thrilled.  It was the easiest thing in the world:  Soak yarn in water.  Mix 1/4 c ground turmeric and 2 c. water.  Dunk yarn in dye.  Squeeze.  Wrap in cellophane.  Steam in colander over boiling water 30 mins.  Cool.  Rinse. Dry.  Knit.   As the skeins steamed, the house smelled like curry, which is also a plus.  Dean played the ukulele while we waited.  Very festive.  After they cooled, I rinsed them well in the sink, then unfurled them and hung them outside, where they whipped on the clothesline like prayer flags at base camp on Everest. 

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Both skeins were done in the same dyebath, so you can see how the order matters.  The dye gets more and more exhausted as you use it up, and the results get paler.  I think I like the light one even more—it’s the color of fresh corn on the cob.  Summer again.

This project took less than an hour, and the results are so wonderful, I feel kind of invincible now!   Onion peels, red cabbage, avocado pits!  Avocado pits are supposed to give a brownish-pink, like the underside of a mushroom, which is the color I spend my whole life searching for.  Oh my goodness, I want to try it all.  I’m going to the store now to get a whole bag of avocadoes, and for once, the guacamole will be just a side-benefit. 

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31 comments:

  1. beautiful vibrant colour......amazing

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  2. Both colors are really beautiful. I would love to see it done with avocado pits, sounds really pretty.

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  3. That is sooo cool and awesome that the two different shades came from the same dye. Please share if you try the avocado, I am intrigued xxx

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  4. don't forget the beets....swoon!!! penny x

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  5. This is exciting! I love the yellows, and the simplicity of it all! And more possibilities....we always have avocados around and just gaily throw away the pits little knowing what exciting possibilites they offer - do you do just follow the same method with these other veg I wonder? How long do you leave the yarn in the turmeric before squeezing and steaming? You'll be too busy trying out the other veg to answer I bet!
    Look forward to your next posts Kristen, and thanks for sharing your revelations!
    Gill xx

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    1. I'm not sure yet how the avocado pits work, but will be glad to share results in the aftermath. :)

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  6. I dyed my own embroidery floss once and I will never buy over-dyed thread again. My gosh, it was so much fun and I ended up with close to 80 skeins of floss! I haven't tried it with wool yet, but I know when I do I won't be able to do just one or two.

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  7. oh so SO beautiful! i love seeing those happy skeins through the window. and snow! sorry, it is just so exciting to me, i wish we had some. :)

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  8. This is awesome! The yellows are just beautiful, like the wild mustard that grows here in the wine country. I always wanted to try onion skins or beets. Or maybe other herbs or spices. Did the yarn smell like curry when it dried? I have so many questions right now, and a hank of natural Alpaca in the cupboard.......hmm.. Looking forward to your next dye job.

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    1. It does still smell a little spicy. Maybe it still needs more rinsing? We'll find out when I block whatever gets made from it, 'cos you know I'll be blocking. :)

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  9. This is so interesting. Can't wait to see what you dye next.

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  10. Love it, love it, love it... And I really love yellow so this is just summer, brightness and happiness all over. Can't wait to see what you are going to make with it.

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  11. It is beautiful! I do have a linen Tshirt here, in the wrong colour...wonder what a bottle of turneric might do to it...

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  12. The yarn is beautiful, I think the colours are gorgeous!

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  13. Love all your projects, I am in awe of your knitting skills and can't wait to see your finished article what this wool xx

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  14. Great post, keep excited so that we are too! Jo x

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  15. By cellophane do you mean cling film?
    Fun, I'd love to see more homemade dying (is that right, it looks wrong?!) results.

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    1. Yes, cling film is the same. It occurred to me later that "cellophane" might be a bit of an old-fashioned word.

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  16. But without a fix won't it just fade quickly?

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    1. I'm told that although most dyes, natural and otherwise, require a mordant (fixative), turmeric doesn't. We'll see!

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  17. I love this...very beautiful colors...I have been wondering how to dye yarn with natural ingredients...I'm definitely going to try this and the avocado too...very exciting...thanks

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  18. beautiful beautiful beautiful!!! I always had thought you had to do some kind of magic to keep the colors from fading/running??? really this simple???!!! gorgeous!

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  19. Just found your wonderful blog yesterday! Devouring each and every post...will take me awhile...enjoying it all. Such talent!

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  20. Kristen, thank you for the recipe and inspiration! I just about always add some turmeric to my rice cooking, but have never used it to dye anything inedible. I agree with Lori about the joy of seeing the yarn through your window.

    Very encouraging! xo

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  21. gorgeous color! love that it is accomplished using completely natural ingredients. we sprinkle turmeric on so much of our food ~ never thought of using it as a colorant :-)

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  22. Gorgeous, vibrant, happy colours! Oh please do share more! I see a crafty dinner party in the making: guacamole appetizer, followed by avocado dying; curry main, with turmeric dying; mixed berry pavlova dessert, for juicy-coloured yarn! Chrissie x

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  23. Dear Kristen,I haven t tried my hands at dying yet,but I ve seen some gorgeous,quite surprising results from using the bark of the birch tree on another blog..you might give it a go one day:) by the way I m loving it here!love,Zsuzsi

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  24. Have followed your lead using some insipid BFL fingering and now have a skein of egg yolk yellow loveliness drying in my bathroom. Also experimented with a few strands of turquoise I have on the go at the moment which produced the most amazing green! Unfortunately left off the rubber gloves during rinsing so now have rather jaundiced looking hands. Can't wait to see your future attempts - I remember marbling hard boiled eggs for Easter with onion skins when I was a child.

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  25. What beautiful colours. I'm hoping to try dyeing soon and I also want to avoid additional / chemical mordants. Partly out of principle but mainly because I'm lazy, clumsy and cowardly :-) I liked the idea that some of the tree barks will have their own mordanting properties (I think) but I forgot what a persistent colour turmeric is when you get it on your clothes, so it's worth doing it on purpose as well - thanks for the idea!

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