I've been trying out some natural dyes on about 4 ounces of Teeswater wool roving I had in my stash of fiber. Teeswater is one of the longwool breeds. It produces a long and lustrous fiber.
Below is a picture of what the dyes produced on one two-ounce section and four 1/2-ounce sections (click on it for a closer look):
I mordanted all of the fiber with alum and cream of tartar. If you number them 1-5 from left to right, the plants I used for the dyes were:
1 - Virginia creeper, produced an almost ashes-of-roses color
2 - carrot tops, produced a very light green
3 - yarrow tops overdyed with burdock leaves (The yarrow was almost exactly the same color as the carrot tops. The burdock leaves punched it up a tiny notch.), produced a slightly darker green than the carrot tops
4 - wild cherry bark collected from twigs and small branches pruned from a tree, produced a lovely root beer brown
5 - staghorn sumac bark collected from pruned small branches overdyed with onion skins and a touch of hibiscus, produced a gold with a touch of green
I was hoping for an orange from the staghorn sumac bark, but it gave me a sort of brown that was lighter than the wild cherry bark, so I threw a few onion skins and a couple of dried hibiscus petals I usually use for tea into the dyepot and let the dyeing process continue for at least 20 more minutes.
I'll spin these all up and ply them together for a two-ply yarn. If I remember to, I'll post a picture of the yarn here later. Okay, it's later and here's the picture:
Spun together, the colors are very subtle and hard to catch in a photo, you may be able to see all of the colors in this one, especially if you click on it to see it larger:
I gathered the plants I used either from my yard (Virginia creeper, wild carrot tops, burdock leaves), from the roadside (sumac), from a nearby stretch of electric company right-of-way wilderness (wild cherry bark), or I had them on hand (onion skins, hibiscus petals).
Most natural dyeing takes only a couple of hours. The fiber can be mordanted while the dye is being extracted from the plant material. This takes about an hour. Then, after the plant material has been strained out of the dyebath, the fiber can be introduced, and left to almost simmer for about another hour. There are a few natural dye materials that can take a few more steps and a bit more time, but, in general, it's terribly easy to produce some really terrific natural colors. To see more posts and more colors, click on my natural dyes label.