4 Dyes

If you have ever imagined that, people used to walk around clothed in dull muddy shades of brown, you will be amazed by the jewel box of colours you can achieve from the most unlikely looking plants.

If you found  Madder growing in your garden your first instinct would probably be to rip it out, a decision you might well regret.  Thanks to its prickly nature, you could be left with a nasty rash.  You will forgive the madder plant all of its shortcomings, however, when you watch the first hank of yarn from your dye bath turn glorious russet red or bubblegum pink.

If you are interested in trying vegetable dying for yourself you will need :- dye stuff, fibre to dye, a set of scales,  a water supply, a thermometer, a measuring jug, a large saucepan, a basin, a chopping board, a sharp knife, a heat source, scissors, old wooden spoons, rubber gloves, and a  mordant.

For safety reasons it is best always to keep these tools separate from the rest of your kitchen utensils.  We always dye outside on a barbeque, but if you don't have the space it is possible to use your kitchen, if you are careful.  

The first step in most circumstances is to mordant your yarn, there are many ways of doing this, and they will all produce different effects.  This is a description of the most common technique that we use.  It is suitable for 100g of yarn, for best results try making two 50g hanks.

1. Dilute 10g Alum and 5g Cream of Tartar with a little boiling water.
2. Fill a pan with enough water to cover the yarn. 
Keep yarn separate at this stage.  
3. Add the mordant solution to the water and stir.
4. Add your yarn to the mordant solution and heat, simmer for an hour.
5. Stir carefully a few times so as not to felt.
6. Leave to cool then rinse
Your yarn can either be used straight from the mordanting process or left to dry till required.
Always soak your yarn before dying.

FELTING can be caused by rapid temperature changes from hot to cold or vice versa and by friction from excessive stirring, so try to beware.