Remember last summer when I tried out solar dyeing? Here are the results (finally, I photographed them). That’s 5 skeins of DK weight super wash merino wool dyed with dried, and then re-hydrated, red chilies. There’s also one skein of sock yarn dyed with black beans. A decent first go around with a fairly difficult process if you go all natural.
Now, what to make?
This is my first attempt at solar dyeing wool. I’ve thought about it in the past, but never actually tackled it. Given that I’m in the mecca of sun for 2 weeks with plenty of free time, I figured the trip afforded the perfect opportunity to try it out. The first step was to skein my bare yarn (5 skeins of merino DK weight wool and 2 skeins of fingering merino superwash wool) and soak it in warm water for 20-30 minutes so the dyes evenly penetrate the fibers.
After reading a piece on solar dyeing with natural dyes in the recent summer issue of Knit Scene, I figured I’d give the whole natural dye thing a whirl. I followed Caitlin French’s instructions pretty closely, but decided to try a few different items on for color size, namely dehydrated red chilies and black beans.
After steeping my items to help release color, I prepped my quart sized bell jars with mordant (I chose Alum powder, per French’s recommendation for its more environmentally friendly rep), hot water, and a bit of vinegar to alter the water’s PH. I kind of just gambled on amounts, but measured my 2-3 teaspoons Alum per 100 grams of fiber. Otherwise, it was all guesswork.
The mix of chilies also has little nylon sacks filled with tumeric as well, to try and create a less “buttery” yellow and more of a rich one. And in another jar, I combined both black bean water (they steeped in water for about 12-14 hours in the sun and overnight) and onion skins to see if the combination would create a richer blue/green/brown.
I’m headed to Northern Arizona for the weekend, so they have plenty of alone time in the sun. I’m hoping the longer I let them sit, the more rich the color. Please cross your fingers that this diy adventure is more successes than failures.
Whilst I am in Phoenix and these ghastly hot temperatures, I figured I’d try my first go-around with solar dyeing wool with natural dyes. Step one was to take a risk and use what’s local. These dehydrated chilies were left in the sun for a few hours to draw out their color. It worked, but fingers crossed its enough to penetrate my fibers.
I could get into this.