Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dyeing in the sun.

This week I managed to get some wool dyed as the weather is perfect for drying. It's so warm and sunny that I just want to be outsided all the time.
The garden has become pretty overgrown due to all the rain and it's been hard to get the grass cut. The ponies have lost a lot of weight because the hay just doesn't have enough calories at this end of the season and I'm shoveling buckets of  food into Jerry but he's still so thin. The solution of course is to put Jerry in the garden! He's in with Toffee as I knew they would get on well and Toffee has been kept away from the herd for some time as he can't eat dry hay, it causes breathing issues similar to asthma. I wouldn't leave them alone in a simple fenced garden, so I took my work outside. Lots of carding and spinning to be done.

The Polwarth was lying around, washed and ready to be spun so I thought I would have a go at dyeing with avocados as we eat so many.
This is where I may have gone wrong. I washed the polwarth again!
I boiled then simmered the avocados for an hour then strained before adding the wool. I simmered the wool gently for an hour and left overnight. The colours were so pale that I added some lemon juice for acid (not sure why, I'd read it somewhere!) and simmered a bit more, this could also be where I went wrong!
The colour was better, but the wool was overdried and felted in places! I realise that I need to be more gentle with fine wools like the polwarth!
I spun the wool and it was lovely but quite dry and brittle, someone on a forum suggested adding a little lanolin to it when I washed to set the twist. I'd started a suint bath on Monday and there was a lot of lanolin floating on the top so I dipped the wool in that before drying. It seems a lot softer!
I've made up some sample cards so that I can test how the natural colours react to sunlight. I don't want to start producing wool and dyes to sell if the results are poor. No one wants a sweater that's faded by the end of the day!
The turmeric was the worst of all the tests so far. It had faded by a whopping 50% by the end of day one! The onion and avocado tests had faded maybe 5% after day one and will stay in the sun for 7 days, so I'll share the pictures of their finished colours.
Today I'll be working with wool dyed with Henna. Someone suggested that it was a terrible plant to use as it's not colourfast. Well, in my experience, henna is very strong and it took months to get that sucker out of my hair. I used harsh chemicals and every product on the shelf, but I still looked fluorescent a month later. I'm quietly confident of it's perfomance on wool :D


  1. I'm so glad you finally have sunshine. Yes, let them have that sweet high grass. They will love it.
    I would love to see the outcome of the fade test. I too think the henna would be hard to fade. I put henna in my hair once and almost couldn't get rid of it. I had to finally go to the hair dressers and get it professionally dyed to a better color. I would love to see the henna dyed wool.

    1. That's on it's way Leeanna :D I've been spinning it all weekend and it's lovely.x

  2. Its lovey to see some-one else using the Suint method for fleece, the water makes great plant food as well :-)