I pulled all the little bags out of the pan and laid them side by side:
As suspected there was white, whitish beige, whitish yellow and yellowish beige.
In each bag you can see the plant stuffs and a little dot of wool. Everything is still wet so colours are as optimal as you can wish. They will wash out a lot, once rinsed and dry.
Behold my magic creation of white, yellowish white, beige white and whitish beige wool:
But there’re also a bit stronger yellow and greenish tones. The one in the middle is with leafs that fell of the Ficus we recently planted.
The two bags at the end are the most promising: dark brown from the Hock (Zuring) and purple from the Sanguisorba Officionalis (Grote Pimpernel). The Hock were fresh leaves from young plants.
I left them like this for the next two weeks because I’m due back in the city and will spend next weekend there because of a knitters’ party. (YAY! I’m almost definitely going! I’ll drive there myself and have already vouched to only go for a few hours so I won’t crash before I get home again.)
So I’ve left the experiments in their bags as is, with leafs and water. I put them back in the pan after I poured all the water that was still in there out of the pan because some of the dye might leach into the water and then get into a bag and taint the experiment of that bag.
I’m quite unsure if this an optimum thing to do. Perhaps it’d been beter if I had added vinegar to the bags or something. The way one does when eco dyeing (wrap a cloth and leafs around a stick or rusty pipe). Or perhaps it’d be better to let the wool dry for two weeks for maximum curing and then rinse it when I come back.
I don’t know, I cannot keep my thoughts straight on anything at the moment and especially not discern between natural dyeing; eco dyeing and acid dying.
In natural dyeing -which I’m doing here- you extract the dye from the plant (mostly by crushing and boiling but can also be done by fermenting and perhaps chemically playing around with chemicals and/or acidity) and then try to get the wool to accept the dye (need a mordant for it mostly).
After that you can shift the colours by playing with the acidity level (vinegar vs. ammonia) of with different after baths (such as iron).
Then there’s eco dyeing or bundle dyeing or leaf printing (but not the hammering I did with the indigo plants). Here you mordant your fibres … with soy… or is that only for cotton …?…
The main idea is you wrap cloth and leafs and use a stick or rusty pipe (which acts as a mordant with tannins from the stick or …. the iron…?) and leave it alone for a couple of weeks. With or without steaming it first.
People often use vinegar. But why? to make the thing rust more?
pic by Beesybee, during a workshop eco dyeing with Irit Dulman
Then in acid dyeing you use vinegar as a driver, to drive the colour into the wool fibres. And heat, to get the wool to accept the dye.
All these dyeing techniques blur around in my head.
The best thing I can do is just allow myself to dabble. To play around. To not try and get optimum results.
And that’s just what this little experiment is. Just a little playing during a lovely Summer’s day in August.
I got to stroll around the cabin yesterday. I greeted (and vandalized) various of the plants and trees I love so much. Said hello to butterflies who enjoy the plants we carefully grow for them (amongst them the Sanguiforbi-os-ah).
I found some places where the Song Thrush (Grote Lijster) had butchered some snails. I reassured little frogs and toads I’d give them time to get out of the way.
And I made the bags and had my little system with the knots in pieces of string and then put them all in my pan and took a moment to appreciate that pan. Big and green and second hand and enamel.
This in turn reminded me of a passage in one of my favourite books: “Simon” by Marianne Fredriksson. Simon’s mother is a woman of nature and she’s getting older and one day finds herself pondering the old pan she’s about to throw out.
She mentions it to her toddler grand daughter, who’s still in touch with the magic of nature that some children know. The girl totally understands that sometimes you have to take a long long moment and think about that old battered pan you’re about to throw away.
In my old still useful pan there are now a bunch of little wet bags waiting for me until I get back to them and there’s nothing lost when things don’t work out and they’ve gone all moldy or beige or something.
I’ll still have that lovely day I had yesterday. And I can clean that pan and use it again.
But wouldn’t it be marvellous if the colours intensify over the next two weeks? Then I can play with iron and ammonia and try to “shift the colours”.
And use my system to take note of which plants I might want to use for dyeing a little yarn with. To make little colourwork wristwarmers perhaps. Or weave a bit. That’d be lovely.
The Ficus looks promising: