Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dyeing with walnut hulls

A little over a week ago I posted about hulling walnuts, getting ready to dye with the hulls. After letting the four pounds of hulls soak in in a large, covered bucket of water for over a week, I got down to the dyeing part today.
The water was a bit frothy, which is fine. I read that the fermenting of the hulls helps deepen the brown color. I poured all of the contents of the bucket into my large dye pot and set it on the stove top:
I boiled the concoction for about an hour. The froth eventually calms down and the hulls sink. At that point the mixture can boil without being watched as carefully - at the frothy stage I was afraid it would boil over, which I did not want to happen. 

After the hour-long boil, I strained the hulls out with a cheesecloth-lined strainer. There's a lot of sludgy gunk that I didn't want on my fiber and the cheesecloth filtered it out of the dye bath. Here are some of the hulls and sludge in the strainer:

I had about 4 ounces of polwarth roving to dye. No mordant is needed with this dye, so I added the clean, pre-soaked roving to the pot and let it stew at a temp. between 160 and 180 degrees F for an hour:

Here is the fiber fresh out of the dye pot before rinsing:

And here it is after rinsing:

It's now hanging to dry. The walnut hulls produced a very nice brown color:
The recipe I had said that you could let the fiber stew for 60 to 90 minutes, and then the heat could be turned off and the fiber left in the pot overnight to intensify the color. I was happy with the color I got with the 60 minute stew and taking it out of the pot right away, in fact, I almost wish it were a tad lighter. But the color is extremely nice and I'm looking forward to spinning it up!

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