Friday, August 12, 2011

Dyeing wool with elderberries

Yesterday, I dyed just about 4 1/2 ounces of wool with elderberries. I had about 1 pound of berries with which to make the dye bath. I mordanted the wool with alum and cream of tarter.

I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to the dyebath. I read that adding vinegar to the elderberry dyebath will strengthen the red/purple color, and adding salt to the bath will turn it more toward the blue hues. I was going for the red/purple. I knew that the final color would be much lighter than the bath color, and I didn't want the blue hue to end up more of a pale slate-blue/gray on the fiber.

I  almost-simmered the mordanted wool in the dyebath for an hour and then took it off the heat and let it sit in the bath overnight. This morning I rinsed the wool and it's now hanging to dry:

On the left is almost 1/2 ounce of wool from my Christmas fleece that I combed up during demonstrations last weekend at The Crooked River Fiber Fling. On the right is 4 ounces of superwash Bluefaced Leicester.

It came out a very nice color. The color on the superwash BFL seems more pronounced. Different fibers will take dye up each in their own way, and superwash will take up dye differently from non-superwash.

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