Saturday, July 25, 2015

True Colors

More adventures with my dyepot, this time using the Queen Anne's Lace that proliferates around here (and most other places, I'll bet) in unmown fields and roadsides. Since I'd never heard of using Queen Anne's Lace as a dye plant, I had a quick look around the internet to see how other people were doing it, and then (as is my way) I just plunged forth and did it, come what may. I filled a plastic shopping bag with flower heads, put them in my dyepot, added enough water to cover, and simmered it for about two hours. It stank. Some people claim to like the smell of these weeds boiling away, saying they smell lemony and carroty, but I thought it was vile. Maybe you have to like (ugh) carrots, I don't know...anyway. I turned off the heat and let it cool in the pot overnight. The next day, I strained the contents through a cheesecloth to remove all the flowery bits and then turned the dye liquor back into the pot. I added 1 T alum and 1/2 t cream of tartar and 4 oz. wet wool yarn into the dye and turned on the heat, letting it warm gradually to a gentle simmer. It bobbed around in the pot for an hour, then I rinsed it by dipping it gently into gradually cooler water baths in the kitchen sink until the water stayed clear. (I still can't get it together to pre-mordant the yarn, and I have no idea whether it will matter or not--if this yarn slowly turns white again over time, I'll let you know.)

 

Results above. It looks like most plants yield some kind of either brown or gold dye, and Queen Anne's Lace (mordanted with alum) yielded for me a soft, warm yellow I might call "butterscotch". I know there are other factors involved (I honestly know absolutely nothing about any of this, by the way) including the uses of other mordants--copper, for one--that can produce different results, and of course every batch is going to be a little different, no matter what anybody does, and that's part of what makes hand-dyeing so interesting to me. In any case, I think our pioneer ancestors must have worn a LOT of brown and gold, because unless a farmer happened to have a gray sheep, gold and brown--and all variants in between the two--was pretty much the color they had.

 

Luckily, it's nice.

19 comments:

  1. Kristen, I've enjoyed seeing your reporting of your recent dye pot adventures, and agree with you about the general color scheme that might have clothed our ancestors, unless they did have access some other dye pot ingredients. Berries, perhaps. I've no experience myself with any natural dying...and perhaps that's why it fascinates me so much.

    xo

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  2. I know classic "homespun" fabric is in the *butternut* color family, so I also always thought they must have all walked about in Autumn colors.

    Your dyeing adventures are fun to follow. =)

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  3. This is a gorgeous buttery colour. Agree that it is odd that (almost) everything turns yellow.

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  4. I have been wanting to try plant dyes for a long time. Reading about how you did it makes me think I could do it too:) I've got so many herbs, maybe I can come up with something. And I can always do queen ann's lace!

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  5. Gorgeous butteryness (new word!) xxx

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  6. It's a lovely mellow shade. Interestingly, the original kilts worn by the Scottish clansmen were yellow based. The brighter tartans didn't appear until much later. x

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    1. Oooh, interesting! The doc will enjoy that tidbit; he's the Scot in our family. :)

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  7. Lovely colour. I might have to try some dyeing myself.

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  8. I love the mellow buttery shade. What a fun venture.

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  9. Every time you drag out the dye pot something pretty pops out. I love this latest mellow yellow shade.

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  10. I think your yarn has turned out quite lovely. I've always wanted to try dying myself and the way you explained what you did made more sense to me then any book I've ever read. Thank you for that. :)
    But I do have one question for you---where did you get the yarn to try this process on? Can't wait to see what you make with your pretty colors!!!
    Ana

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    1. I used my old favorite, Patons Classic Wool, in Winter White. :)

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    2. Thank you for answering my question. I've seen this yarn before but never have tried it. Now I will! And this morning I spotted some Queen Anne's Lace behind my shed. Never even knew it decided to move in! It really is pretty.
      Ana

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  11. I think it is a gorgeous color, so beautiful. And I love Queen Anne's Lace, we don't have them in Florida but I had them growing up in Michigan.

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  12. It's a really lovely colour. I have never hard of a flower (or weed) called Queen Anne Lace - must look it up on the internet.

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  13. Nunca he teñido con flores, pero se ve interesante. Ahora me pregunto, ¿en qué emplearás el nuevo hilo?

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  14. Oh I love the butter color of the yarn. Beautiful!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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