Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dyeing with red cabbage

I decided to try dyeing with red cabbage. It's one of those dyes that may not be particularly light-fast, and different colors can be achieved by raising or lowering the pH of the dyebath. I'm a little leery of those types of dyes, but I was curious to see if I could get  nice blue out of the process, so I proceeded.

I bought a nice, red cabbage from the grocery store, cut it up and put it in a pot with water to make the dyebath (click on any of the pictures to see them bigger):

While the cabbage was simmering away, I mordanted the fiber, which consisted of 4 ounces of superwash BFL wool, and about 4 ounces of white, handspun, baby alpaca yarn. The mordant I used was alum and cream of tartar:

Here is a picture of the cabbage starting to give its color to the dyebath:

When the dyebath was ready, I strained the cabbage leaves out and separated the liquid into two pots. One pot I left with its nice, blue color, and the other pot I added vinegar to until it was a pink-purple color. I put the alpaca yarn in the blue pot, and the roving in the pink-purple pot.

Here is the handspun baby alpaca singles yarn in the dyebath:

And here is the superwash BFL roving in the dyebath:

After dyeing for about an hour, I covered the pots and took them off of the heat. I let them sit overnight, and in the morning, both pots had changed to a green color. Here is the color that I got on both the roving and the yarn - the yarn is in rinse water after being taken out of the pot:

And here are the results after drying and spinning - the alpaca is the green, center-pull ball, and the superwash BFL is the green skein. This picture was taken with a flash, but the following picture is without a flash:

The other yarns in the picture have also been dyed with natural dyes, pokeberry, marigold and cleavers root (from left to right), with the soft greens from the red cabbage. Again, this picture is without a flash:

I actually really like the green that I got from the red cabbage, but I'm not sure how light-fast it will be. It may fade to gray over time, which will be sad.

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