Natural Dyeing Immersion
- Dye Dedicated pot
- Dye Dedicated spoon and/or tongs
- Dye Dedicated measuring spoons
- Drying Rack
- Drop Cloth
- Stove top or induction burner
- Splash sink or rinse bucket
- Cream of Tartar
- Shower Curtain Rings: put these through the hanks to get a grip on them and hang them up without tangling
- Apron: Not necessarily required but I like to have them just in case
Natural Dye Materials
- Coffee Grounds
- Black Tea
- Onion Skins
- Avocado Pits
- Red Cabbage
- Black Beans
- Red/Pink Rose
- Sunflower Petals
- Mint Leaves
- Crab Apple
The list of options is long! You’ll need to do some experiments to figure out what works for you.
TIP: Write everything down as you go! There are many steps and you do not want to rely on memory for your calculations. This is also helpful to go back to if you want to re-create a certain dyed fiber.
Step 1: Start by weighing the amount of fiber you will by dyeing, you can consult the yarn label. Collect enough onion skins to equal the weight of the fiber being dyed.
Step 2: Fill your pot with enough water for the fibers to float freely and bring to simmer. Add 6% of the fiber weight in Cream of Tartar to the pot.
- This is called Mordanting the yarn. It helps the tannins from the natural dye stick to the fiber.
- Lots of things can affect the Mordant, so do your research!
- Per 100g skein of High Desert Bare: 1.25 tsp Cream of Tartar
Step 3: Simmer the fiber in the mordant for 1 hour.
DO NOT BOIL Dyeing certain fibers in boiling water will felt them!
Step 4: After 1 hour, remove the yarn from the mordant bath and let dry. Dispose of the mordant down the splash sink. NOT THE KITCHEN SINK
Step 5: Prepare the dye bath
- Fill dye pot with water and bring to simmer. Add onion skins and simmer for 1 hour.
Step 6: Add the mordanted fiber to the dye pot and simmer for 60 minutes.
- Keep the temperature at a simmer and gently stir but only to keep the fibers from sinking to the bottom of the pot.
- The ratio between fiber and dyestuffs is more important than the ratio of water to fiber/dyestuffs.
You can strain the onion skins out of the dye bath first if desired
Step 7: Remove dye pot from the heat and let cool for several minutes.
- While it cools, prepare your slash sink or rinse bucket with COLD water.
Step 8: Remove fiber from pot and rise THOROUGHLY with COLD water. Gloves on!
- Continue to rinse until water runs clear.
- The cold water preserves the vibrancy of the color.
- Gently squeeze out any water once it runs clear and hang up to dry.
Step 9: Now look in your dye pot. There should be little to no color left in the water. If there is, you can put it back on the heat and add some extra fiber to soak up the excess dye by repeating Steps 5-8.
- This is how I got the effect on the yellow/pink/blue skein. I soaked up the extra yellow dye first for the base. Then I did the same with the leftover red dye bath. Then I sprinkled some blue powder over in the speckle technique. (explained later)
- This is also how I got the painted effect on the dark red skein. I did Steps 1-8 with red, then used rubber bands to tie it really tightly, then Steps 5-8 in the leftover blue.
- If the dye bath is clear/mostly clear, you can pour it down the splash sink. NOT THE KITCHEN SINK
Step 10 (Optional): Soak the dyed yarn in warm water and wool wash/light detergent for 15 to 20 minutes, rinse, squeeze out excess water, and hang to dry.
- This removes all the excess dye left behind. The reason some yarns bleed when your finished product is blocked is because this step was not done.
PRO TIP Place a sheet of Shout Color Catcher into the wash water. This absorbs any dye that is free-floating in the water. Also use this when wet blocking finished projects to contain bleeding. They can be found in the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store.