Sunday, August 14, 2011

Natural Dyes, Part II

When gathering plants for natural dyeing, you can't always predict the color of the dye by the outward appearance of the plant. 

Butterfly Weed

The vibrant orange coloring of this plant might make you think that you would get a beautiful dye.  Here is the dye that I obtained:

The color sample on the far right was the result with butterfly weed.  Very boring and bland!

Judging from its appearance, you would think that apple tree bark might produce a gray or brown color.

Apple tree bark 

Taking yarn out of an apple tree bark dye bath

This was the biggest surprise that I have ever had when using natural dyes!

Apple tree bark produces BEAUTIFUL colors!

Here is a rug that I wove using wool fabric strips.  The colors are all natural dyed.  

And some folks think that all natural dyes produce soft and mellow colors!

The yellow is from osage orange wood chips.  
The blue is from natural indigo,which is a plant.  
The green was produced by dyeing it with osage orange wood (yellow) first, then dipping it into indigo (blue). 
The beautiful scarlet color is from cochineal (crushed up insects!) 
The purple I produced by dyeing the wool first with the cochineal (scarlet) and then dipping it into indigo (blue).  

The dye that can be produced from plants can vary from year to year and from location to location.  The amount of rainfall, sunshine and the minerals found in soil can all affect the colors.  So you should always be sure to dye enough yarn or fabric for your project because it can be very difficult, or even impossible, to reproduce the exact same shade.

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