Weekend with Turkey and Turmeric Dye

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!   So… I am sick this weekend  (think I have the flu) but I still had a fantastic time with my family, food… and well… wool.  This weekend I am starting hopefully the “last” scarf I will ever knit.  As manly as my knitting is…  (it is very manly) I am kind of sick of making scarfs.   This last scarf is for my youngest son Ben.  I tried to talk him out of a scarf by suggesting a hat but he wanted a scarf…  an orange scarf.  I needed “orange” yarn so I am going to share with you our attempt at getting orange colored yarn with Turmeric.   Thank you SUZE for the idea!

I have already made a scarf for Gwen and Sam (Ben’s brother and sister). Actually I have made three scarfs… and to be honest a scarf is all that I know how to knit.  Yep… there is only thing I know how to knit and I am starting to “master” these long rectangles.  I have even started experimentation. (manly experimentation… wow that doesn’t sound right) I barely finished Sam’s scarf which has lots of stripes and three blobs at each end (not sure what the blobs are suppose to be)

Tumeric 01

Here is Sam’s scarf.  The colors are either natural wool or dyed wool using logwood or walnuts. (see Weekend with Logwood – Weekend with Walnut Hull Dye).  You can see there are lots of stripes and little symmetry… that is how men do it.

OK… back to the turmeric dyeing story…

Ben and I had decided we would avoid the craziness of shopping this black Friday and stayed home while Isabelle, Gwen, and Sam fought the crowds.   I was extremely pleased to be avoiding this crazy day  but Ben after a couple of hours couldn’t resist the festive commercialistic spirit of this season…  so off we went to the grocery store to purchase turmeric. 

Tumeric 02

After exiting the store Ben asked “did we get a good deal?”.   I told him that we had saved $2.25 and this made him unexpectedly happy.  Several hours later Isabelle and the other two kids returned home from their “black Friday” shopping.   Ben was very anxious to let them know that we had our own “shopping” adventure.  He announced our “savings” turning it into a bit of a “fish story” by announcing that we saved over 40%.  I am not sure where the percentage came from.

Here is how I dyed yarn with turmeric… (very simple instructions)

Tumeric 03

I soaked the wool yarn (barely made) in hot water.  While it soaked I added half of the turmeric bottle to about a cup of vinegar.   Once the vinegar and turmeric was mixed I could see that we were not going to get an orange… more of a golden mustard.

I added about a gallon of water to the turmeric/vinegar  and heated up the mixture to just over 100ºf.   I then added the yarn and let it sit in the hot turmeric water for 60 minutes.

Tumeric 04

After one hour of soaking up the color I rinsed the yarn several times and got my final color.   (By the way this is probably the messiest stuff I have worked with… I got it everywhere and Isabelle was  a bit upset… especially with the new yellow hued gray towels.  I blamed all of the mess on the a fact that I was starting to feel ill)

I asked Ben if the color was ok… and before he could say anything I reminded him of the “huge” savings we made.   Fortunately he was still on his “bargain shopping high” and said it was fine.

Here is the yarn dry… and the start of Ben’s scarf.

Tumeric 05

Tumeric 06

I had best stop here…. I have taken some Nyquil and am starting to dose off.

Thank you for stopping by!


End of Fall Dyeing with Gardenia Fruit

This week I am going to share with you some more experimentation with natural dyeing.  (Wonder if there is such a thing as unnatural dyeing) I ordered gardenia fruit from Etsy after reading that it was used as a traditional yellow dye in both Japan and China.  The fruit is also used in traditional Chinese medicine as an agent that calms, clears and cools (not sure what is meant by cool).    While being calm, clear and cool sounds nice I will not be eating it this weekend.  (I assumed you eat it… maybe I should sneak this into my wife’s plate… just to see if it works)

Before I share with all of you my gardenia fruit dyeing I want to share some of the last pictures of fall.   The colors are almost gone and I promised myself several weeks ago I would appreciate the fall colors before it was too late (see Weekend and Fall Colors )

Here are a couple of pictures from a small family walk:

Midway October 05

Midway October 01

Midway October 04

Midway October 02

Now back to the dyeing!

The gardenia fruit came with instructions for dyeing cotton and silk cloth.   Once you see the color you will realize as I did how beautiful this would have been on silk.   It is just an “ok” color for wool according to my family… who also mentioned that is very “bright”… too bright for their scarfs.  (Yes I have to make everyone a scarf now… and I can’t just use random colors.. they are draining the joy away one rejected color at a time )

Sorry for the rant… back to dyeing (again).  I had to kind of improvise a process by borrowing steps from either the cotton or the silk sets of instructions ( I made the choices based upon which steps were easier).  I had to leave out steps like vigorously stirring… since stirring the wool fibers in hot water would result in a yellow blob of felt.


(if someone has better instructions or steps please feel welcome to share them)

Step 1

I wrapped the fruit (about 30 grams) up in cheese cloth (easier than straining it out later…  This is my addition… clever huh!)  I put the bundle into 6 cups of water and simmered for 20 minutes.

Gardenia Fruit 00


Gardenia Fruit 01

Step 2:

I poured the initial bath into a container, crushed up the fruit, and then put it into 6 additional cups of water and simmered this second bath for 20 minutes.

Gardenia Fruit 02

Gardenia Fruit 03

Step 3:

I separated enough wool to be covered by the 12 cups of water… (this was by eye… I know I should be weighing it…  sometimes you have to “wing it” … umm at least my lazy side believes that )  I placed the wool for 1 hour in a alum (11 grams), tartaric acid (8 grams) and water(didn’t measure but it was near 12 cups) mordant.  The mordant must be hot.  I drained the wool but this time I didn’t rinse it out.

Gardenia Fruit 04

Step 4:

I put both baths of dye back together and brought it up to about 120 degrees (F) .  I added in the wool (damp) and let sit for 20 minutes.   In the cotton and silk instructions they did multiple dips… but I liked how it looked after 20 minutes and I was too lazy to add multiple rinse and dye steps.

Gardenia Fruit 05

Step 5:

I rinsed wool and let  it dry (be careful not to introduce extreme temperature changes with your rinse or you will get felt)

Gardenia Fruit 06

I actually find the color to be spectacular very rich and very beautiful. (despite what my family thinks… perfect for any scarf)

I decided to spin the wool and you can see that spinning in “action” in the picture below.  I am not sure you can tell but I am wearing my “Japanese” pants in honor of this dye. (I  actually use these as pajamas and lounging around the house pants… this was just a coincidence.)

I also noticed in the picture how relaxed my feat looked while I treadle the spinning wheel… that kind of surprised me (you can’t tell but my feet are are moving up and down)

Gardenia Fruit 07

Below are two pictures one is the final two ply yarn and another is the mix I made because my wife requested a mix (white and yellow)  I was hoping she would allow this to be used for a scarf… but even with the mix it is still a no.    I couldn’t even talk my youngest son into the yellow.   (What am I going to do with this yellow?)

Well… that is all…. next color will either be indigo or orange.   (Ben wants orange… not yellow for his scarf.   Not sure what I will use for orange… any advice?)

Gardenia Fruit 08

Gardenia Fruit 10

Sunflower Dye

Yes more dyeing and this time from a bag of sunflowers that Isabelle picked on her walk back from the gym.  (Technically she stole these flowers… proof that she isn’t so “perfect”)   While “googling”, I have seen many different colors coming from different types of sunflowers so I was curious as to what color I would get. (yes that is a subtle way of getting you to read or at least look at the rest of this post… admit it… you are wondering what color I will get too)

sunflowerdye 03

Above is the first 2 ply yarn made with my new spinning wheel (see It finally came! (my spinning wheel)).   I put this in an alum mordant for two hours to prepare it for the dye.

sunflowerdye 01

I first thought about only using the pedals and plucked them off into a pot(this pot is a big mistake… you will learn about that later)  Sunflower pedals are covered in sticky “guck” (can’t think of a better word) and all of the plucking made my fingers yellow and sticky.

sunflowerdye 02

After watching the water a bit I notice I was only getting a pale yellow and well I didn’t feel “yellow” so I decided to throw all of the rest of the flower parts in.   (Geez… I didn’t have to pluck).   The water turned an orange brown and well I didn’t feel like this either.   I decided to play with PH.   Making it more base made it turn to an ugly color of “gray/beige”.   I tried adding vinegar and this made it turn a red orange.  I kind of liked this color but you never know… with all of the dye experiment I have done lately I know that you can never trust the color of the water to predict the end result.

sunflowerdye 04

I decided that I had best do “trail” first.  I dropped some cotton yarn in and it didn’t come out the expected color. (I will show you the color later)  I decided that I would try the wool and hope that it wasn’t too ugly…  You can see the wool in the dye bath above and I like the color of the water in any case.

sunflowerdye 05

Here is the wool out of the dye and it is definitely not the same color as the cotton trail… how confusing.  I can’t imagine that cotton and wool would come out so different.  I then noticed that the cotton strings that I tied the wool up were the same color as the wool.

sunflowerdye 06

Here are the two together… weird huh.   I then took a closer look at the wool and noticed small parts of the yarn were green.  After some thinking… I finally figured out the problem.  The pot I used was not my typical “non-reactive” one and the trial cotton yarn sunk to the bottom and touched the pot.   The wool floated and didn’t touch the metal of the pot with the exception of some small areas.   Any part that touched the pot metal turned the greenish color while the parts that didn’t turned the rose color.

sunflowerdye 07

Here is the finished yarn next to the original color.   Ben told me it was cool and it was “skin” color. Isabelle told me she didn’t like it.  (the French harsh way…  I think she said “that is an ugly color”)  I like the color and I learned to be careful when choosing what pot to use to dye my yarn.

Thanks for reading this!


Weekend with Logwood

My enthrallment with natural dyes again preoccupied my weekend.   (Do you ever write a sentence and then think… I would never say that… why did I write it?…   read the first sentence again and try to imagine anyone honestly saying that).   Let me “type” here what I would actually say….

I dyed wool again this weekend with pieces of orange wood… Logwood to be more precise.  I know it sounds weird and I don’t know why I am obsessed with natural dyes.   All I can say it this time I got an incredibly awesome color.   You can see in my feature picture the end result knitted into a scarf.  This scarf is an oddly stripped scarf comprised of all of my  odd dyeing experiments.   (except the snails )

This scarf has wool dyed from the following:

I hope to add Indigo and Walnut hulls.   I will take a picture of the scarf when it is done.

LogWood 01

I bought the logwood from Etsy and it was shipped all the way from Germany.   (I had not paid attention to the seller’s location).   I find this a bit amusing since Logwood is native to southern Mexico and Central America.  Isn’t it amazing how small the world has become and think about the trip these little pieces of wood went on.

Logwood was an important source for  dye from the 17th – 19th century…  Not sure why it isn’t any longer other than maybe we are too “advanced” to use it anymore.   In the picture above you can see that the orange wood when added to water turned the water a blood red.  I imagine it is this property that sparked the idea to use it as a dye.  (for those who read my post on snail dye… this wood does not smell putrid like the snail gland dye… Isabelle was much more happy)

LogWood 02

I soaked the wood for 3-4 hours… It was recommended to soak over night but the small size of the wood along with dense rich color told me that the dye bath was ready to simmer.   (I also became inpatient… )

You know what?  I find it completely fascinating that I start with orange wood which turns water to blood red and then ends up coloring the wool purple.   Revisiting the process through this post and pictures still captivates me.  (I know you are probably thinking I need to watch more TV…  )

LogWood 03

Here is the wool in it’s original state in a pot of alum mordant (22 grams of alum with 1 gallon of water… I read that it needed more alum…  not sure why).   While the wool was being prepared to “take” the dye I simmered the wood water.

LogWood 04

The blood water darkened and the wood itself turned almost black.   I strained the mixture to get all of the pieces of wood out.   I think this is very important because from the texture of the wood I imagine it would have snagged itself into the wool and become a nightmare to remove.  (Imagine getting splinters while spinning wool)

LogWood 05

I added the wool and well I started to doubt the color.   It looks like something I should display for Halloween… (you know entrails freshly removed… although it smelt nicer).   I left the wool in for 40 minutes.   (Maybe too long… I didn’t want such a dark color)

LogWood 06

Here is the wool hanging to dry.   I use to become disappointed when the dye was uneven but now I pretend to have done this with intent.   You can see the rich dark purplish blue and the lighter lavender sections.  To be honest I wanted the lighter color… but was hoping that the color would lighten once dry.  I rinsed several times but it seemed that the color just became more and more intense.

LogWood 07

I hand spun a portion of the wool… (I am still waiting for my spinning wheel).   I re-washed the wool… dang… still dark purple.

LogWood 09

I mentioned that the color was not even and in the past how this would annoy me.   Now I appreciate the varied hues and intensities and the richness it adds to the yarn as it is plied.

LogWood 08

Here you can see some 2 ply yarn and if you look closely you can see the different shades of purple.   This is the yarn I used to knit the newest stripe in my scarf of many colors.   I showed Isabelle and all she stated is that it is a different color to add to the scarf… very bright and contrasting.   This is a big moment in my marriage… you see she is French and in the past she would have just said… “Wow that looks horrible together”.   She has now adopted the subtle American style of hinting criticism.   This excites me since it means that I can foster a healthy bit of denial and think she meant it is awesome.

LogWood 00

Here again is the scarf… you can see the variations of purple.   What do you think?  (remember I am in aesthetic denial… don’t ruin it for me)… hey isn’t my knitting getting better.. (still manly… but much better)

Weekend with Snails (Murix Trunculus)

I am home!  OH…. It is very nice to be home with my family.  I  wanted to celebrate (maybe that is too strong of a word) my return by dying wool with snails.  (I loved this celebration… but it’s awesomeness was not felt by my wife… explanation soon to follow)This post will be about snail dying inspired from my visit to Jerusalem… and I promise to get to that as soon as I empty myself of the lasts bits of Israel trip talk.

Here are some random pictures taken from my trip.


I had to share this sign with you… (near my hotel in Ra’anana).   I am only familiar with the slang version of this word…   and with that said what does the “& more” mean?


Raanana 02

I had hummus again and am really starting to like it. (Still feels like adult baby food)   I tried this Israeli Soda (don’t know the name.. actually you see the name but that doesn’t help me).  I was told that it was like root beer… and well… it is not at all like root beer.  This soda is made from wheat and I can best describe the flavor as a cross between cream soda and Postum… (probably not helpful if you haven’t had Postum)  Is this available anywhere in the USA?  If you have tried this do you like it?… I am still on the fence.  (Maybe it is a “like after several tries” type of drink)  Last random picture is one I found while wandering around the office.  This was a paper taped to a wall. (I didn’t follow the instructions… must not be stressed enough)

Raanana 03

Let me get to the DYE…  and the SNAILS!

Here is some context.   In a past post I have shown the markets in Jerusalem (Jerusalem Street Markets)   I didn’t show the Jewish quarter which became the highlight of the trip.


I love local artisanal products and if you want something authentic from Jerusalem this is the area to shop.  (You can’t trust anything in the street markets…)   I came across this loom while wandering around (I want one of these so bad) and then found what became my favorite shop in Jerusalem.

Fifth Quarter Gallery

Here is the entrance to The Fifth Quarter: Gallery • Studio • Store.   They claim to be the “Largest” in Jerusalem but  I don’t think size matters… (at least I hope it doesn’t)  I decided to wander in and look for a Yarmulke for Ben (my 7 year old son who had asked for the small Jewish hat.  He had seen this worn by a co-worker visiting the US.)  They were very friendly and helped me pick one out for Ben.  This is a “must go” shop while in Jerusalem.  Please visit this store… I promise you will be delighted.  (I am not getting paid to write that… hmm wonder if they would pay me… would demand goods not money)

Here is there Facebook page and trip advisor page:


Ben’s hat!… Wonder if he is actually going to wear this…

There are some amazing local items in the store… some actually being created inside.  All of the items are marked with a price and it is the actual price… no haggling needed.     This can be a nice break from all of the bargaining one must do in the other markets in Jerusalem.   While wandering around I came across this fish tank.  (I should probably call it a “snail tank”)


While I have heard of Tyrian Purple a beautiful dye made from snails… I had not heard of this dye made from a snail belonging to the same family.  Tyrian purple is probably the most expensive dye in the world (and incredibly beautiful).   You can purchase it here for $1,015 per 250 mg… which is about $115,098 per ounce. I have yearned (that is the right word… you could even go as far as saying “deep yearning”) to dye something with this snail based dye but I could not talk Isabelle into letting me spend that much money.


Right before me… To my overwhelming excitement was a display for a less expensive snail based dye.  (Live snails and all) I started to salivate…  um… this was not because of my French family connection.   The incredibly kind/patient store manager explained that several years back these snails were discovered to be the source for the “Tekhelet” dye.  Tekhelet was the biblical blue dye used to dye the veils in the temple and priest garments.  He explained that “we” had lost our way and should have been using one blue thread in our tsitsit.  I had no idea what he was talking about.   I had explained several times that I was not Jewish but I don’t think he believed me.  He pulled his tsitsits out (wow that does not sound appropriate) and showed me the blue cords.  Tsitsits are the cords tied to the four corners of a tallit (prayer shawl) and a tallit kalin (everyday garments).   Fascinating huh…  Here is a video of how the dye is made

When I looked above the tank of snails I noticed a Tekhelet dye kit.   I immediately asked “how much” and was told that they would have to check since “no one had ever asked”.   (People can be so dumb)  Fortunately it wasn’t too expensive although it was just enough to dye a very small amount of wool… (made for the blue cord on the tsitsit).   I mentioned that I wanted this and they seemed generally surprised.   They counseled me to just by the tsitsits already made… I said nope… I want the dye kit.  They offered to tie the tsitsits after I had dyed the cord in the case I didn’t know how.   Very kind… but geez I just wanted to dye something with snail juice.

tekhelet 02

I bought the kit… and was giddy.  I then wondered if I would have problems bringing this back home.  Fortunately I had no problems.  (I declared the “dye” kit but didn’t say anything about snails)

tekhelet 03

Here are the steps I used for dyeing the small amount of yarn I spun and the small amount of wool that came with the kit. (the kit only had enough dye for one cup of water.  The kit had everything pre-measured and clearly marked.  I will be sharing those instructions) 

The kit came with a warning to do this in a well ventilated place or outside.  It was 5:00 am  when I started (jet lag) so I thought… hmm… kitchen should be ok… I do have a range hood if needed.    Isabelle immediately woke up saying that the snail smell is the worse thing she has every smelled… much… much worse than any of my previous dye experiments.   (She told me to make sure I put that “warning” into the blog).   She complained the entire day.    I thought that she was exaggerating but Gwen (my second oldest daughter) said it was worse than Ben’s farts… then followed up with… “it smells like rotten fish mixed with Ben’s farts”.

tekhelet 04

Step 1:  Put the dried snail stuff in the supplied beaker.   (notice that there is not much and while the color looks black it really is a deep purple… and it does smell)

tekhelet 05

Step 2:  Add sodium carbonate (soda ash)

tekhelet 06

Step 3:   Add 1 cup of boiling water and stir.   The dried snail bits don’t completely dissolve but you can see the purple foam.

tekhelet 07

Step 4:   Add Sodium Dithionite (whatever that is).   This should be added slowly since it does fizz a bit

Step 5:   Add Citric Acid.  This should be added even slower since it fizzes a lot.

tekhelet 08

Step 6:  Divide solution into two parts.  One will be exposed to light (kit came with UV light – this produces lighter blue) the other will be placed in darkness (I placed it back into the dye kit box – this produces purplish blue).   Add wool and let sit for 20 -40 minutes.

tekhelet 09

Step 7:  Remove from solution and let dry.  The instructions mentioned that you can rinse to speed up the effect.   The cords came out yellow but turned blue when exposed to the air.

tekhelet 10

tekhelet 11

tekhelet 12

tekhelet 13

Above is the wool yarn completely dry that was kept in the dark.

tekhelet 14

Here is the dry yarn exposed to the light… this was also crammed under the wool that came with the kit.  (it is a bit uneven)

The wool found in the kit turned out the lightest color of blue.  (it was on top of the solution).   I spun this wool into a single ply cord along with some regular undyed wool.

tekhelet 15

I kept thinking of the kind store manager and his insistence on using this blue as part of my tsitsit.  After some thinking… I decided that I had best make four titsits because the kit was expressly built for that.   After watching several YouTube videos I tied the cords.   I followed the most simple method with 10 – 5 – 6 – 5 wrapped knots with square knots in between.   I am not certain of all of the significance to this but I admire devotion and all faiths.   I hope that I haven’t crossed any religious sensitivity boundaries.  (My curiosity often causes me to maybe go to far… )  In any case when I was asked if they were “bracelets” by my children I had an opportunity to talk about another faith and help my children appreciate the rich culture, history, and religion of the Jewish people.  I really believe that learning about others leads to tolerance and most importantly love and acceptance.

Here is some pictures of the Tsitsits I created:

tekhelet 16

tekhelet 17

Thanks for taking the time to read this… bet you are envious… and who wouldn’t be… dying stuff with snails is awesome.   I can’t help but keep asking myself… “how did they come up with this?”

Weekend Dyeing with Red Onions

This weekend I decided to continue playing around with natural dyes.  This time I decided to give red onion skins a try.  I have to admit that I am fascinated by natural dyeing techniques.   I wonder about the person who thought of trying onion skins to dye stuff.    Was he/she weird? or brilliant?… was this an idea generated from careful thought and experimentation? or just a happy accident?   What did they dye?

Geek fact…. evidence of textile dyeing has been found all the way back to the Neolithic period (stone age)

I am a red onion dyeing virgin.  (That is quite the confession).   I have read up on this and have seen pictures.   All of which has created this urgent need and excitement.  Red onions are magic… and can produce a very surprising color.   I was anxious to see if I could get that color (you will have to read or scroll down to see what I was chasing after.)

Onion Dye 08

I bought 5 very large red onions.  I only need their skins and you can see that I put the skins in a gallon of water.   I have a “non-reactive” pot (at least I think it is) and I threw all caution to the wind (danger is my middle name) and used tap water this time.   (Every other time I have bought distilled water to know exactly what I was starting with… no minerals or other stuff that may change the outcome)

Onion Dye 05

I put on the heat and simmered these skins for about and hour.   You can see the color is a red brown.

Onion Dye 06

I soaked both single ply wool and regular washed wool in an alum mordant.

Mordant Recipe and Instruction:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 6 grams of alum
  • 6 grams of  tartaric acid
  1. Bring mixture up to a simmer then add wool.   (DON’T stir the wool unless you want felt.)  
  2. Let this soak for at least one hour.
  3. Rinse wool… again being careful not to turn it into felt.   (always add the wool to the water never poor water onto it and keep extreme temperature changes to a minimum)

This mordant process is suppose to help with both the intensity of the color as well as helping to set the color.

Onion Dye 04

I added just the yarn (wet) to the dye and being lazy didn’t remove the onion skins.   Ben came by and asked what I was cooking.  I had him convinced that I was making cow brains for dinner.   (Ben was disgusted and said that he was probably allergic to brains)  Doesn’t this look like brains?

I could see it turning a beautiful rosy brown…  but that is not the color I wanted.   (Rosy brown would be too obvious.)

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 04

I decided to play with the pH and see if I could get the color I wanted.   I tried baking soda first.   Water has a pH of about 7 and baking soda moved it up to around 9.   (I have litmus paper).   This did the TRICK!!!   I don’t have a picture of the solution since I was too excited to remember I was documenting this.  (Remember this is my first time)  I let the wool simmer for about 40 minutes in the dye bath until I got the intensity I wanted.  I then hung the yarn to dry.

Onion Dye 03
Green color from red onion skins


My kids say this color is “diarrhea green” but I think it is more of an avocado green.   There is a bit of irony to this..  using red onion skins to get avocado green and in a past experiment I used avocado pits to get a pink (See photo below)

Pink color from avocado pits

I plied the yarn and then decided to add it to a scarf I am knitting.   Actually a scarf is the only thing I know how to knit… and well my knitting needs practice before I try something new.    Here are some pictures and you will note that the “avocado” green goes very well with brown…. (No diarrhea scarf for me)

Onion Dye 02

Onion Dye 01

Onion Dye 00

I love this green color and will probably be doing this again.  I am lucky that Isabelle is very patient…. that is as long as I figure out something to do with all of the “skinless” onions.  (had the same problem with the avocados)

hmmm… maybe a tarte aux oignons?

Do you have an idea for these onions?…

Weekend Dyeing with Cabbage and Beans

This weekend I played around with natural dyeing.

I just re-read that sentence and two things came to mind.  First dye and die are awfully close… thank goodness I was not talking about death.   Second.. several years ago I would have never guessed I would be fascinated with dyeing wool.   This dye fascination (almost fetish) began with one of my first posts on this blog.  (see Weekend with the Cochineals) Not only did I find a real joy in crushing beetles I was completely enamored with the wonderful resulting color.


Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 02
Here are white strings I used to tie the yarn while being dyed.   The top is dyed with red cabbage while the bottom is dyed with black beens


This weekend I revisited two natural dye techniques I had previously tried.  I dyed with black beans and red cabbage.   In the picture above you can see the color you get when dyeing white wool. This time I decided to try dyeing another color of wool.   Instead of starting with white wool  I am using gray.

Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 08

I have read and been warned that natural dye especially red cabbage is not ideal.   The  color will fade away etc… While all of this is probably true I really don’t care.   (Umm don’t read that wrong.  I like it when people offer advice.  I just like the process more than I care about the end result)

The first step is getting the wool ready to accept the dye.   This time I spun it into a single ply yarn than I “mordanted” the wool… yes I know that is probably not a word.   Mordanting helps the wool absorb the color.   I will quote myself from the first dyeing post instead of writing it out the instructions again.   (I know I am being a bit lazy… but I followed the same process)

Mordanting the wool (from the french word mordant… My wife is french but I don’t find here “biting” or caustic… ).  This step helps the wool absorb the dye as well as changes the end color… all depending upon what is added.   I presoaked the wool (150 grams) for an hour than dissolved 12 grams of Alum and 10 grams of Tartaric Acid in 2 gallons of distilled water (mixed marriages do have their consequences… gallons mixed with grams… sorry).    Added the wool (wet) and simmered at 93º F. for an hour. I than removed the wool and let sit overnight to dry.


Here is the result from the first time… Dyed with cochineals (not spun).   I still love this color!

My first dyeing experience has not yet been replace with a better experience.  I loved the resulting color and  the idea that it came from a “bug”.

Let me come back to this weekend… (jesh… need to stop living in the past)

Black Bean Instructions:

Black bean dye gives a nice gray blue color when dying white wool.   It is also a very easy technique.   I added water to dry black beans (2 gallons of distilled water for one large sack of beans) .  I don’t believe you can do this with canned beans… in fact I bet that would make a huge mess.  (Maybe I will try it) I let this sit 24 hours then removed the beans… (I made refried beans by cooking  the beans then adding bacon, onions, and garlic and frying… no wasted food for this dye)


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This is what the color looks like.   It has a purple hue and well looks disgusting.

I warmed up the bean water to about 140 and added the yarn.  I let this soak for several hours.   The first time I let the yarn soak  until I got the color I wanted…  below is an example of the white wool color.


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This is a sample of white wool dyed with black beans.  (I was going to crochet a hat but stopped so it is now just a color sample)

I really like the blue color from black beans… but the gray wool didn’t take the blue in the same way. I left it in the dye for about 3 hours and  It actually turned to a “blackish” color… who would guess black beans making something black.


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Pulled out before it went completely black…

Later in the post I will show the yarn made from the combination of both but in the above picture you can see how dark the gray became.   (I wont lie… I was a bit disappointed)

Red Cabbage Instructions:

Red cabbage is much more fun to play with and you have your choice of colors by changing the acidity of the water.

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You cut up the cabbage place it in water and bring it to a boil.   The water will be a dark purple… this is the starting color.   I recommend doing this with your children or curious spouse (if they are curious… this kind of stresses Isabelle since she knows I can’t help making a mess).   You should remove the cabbage if you do not want to waste it.   I didn’t think about this until Ben (my 7 year old) asked me what smelt so good…. (weird kid… who thinks cabbage smells good).  With cabbage acid takes it to the red hues and base takes it to the blue/green hues.   I wanted blue/green so I added baking soda to the water.  Red Cabbage and Bean Dye 04

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I gradually added the backing soda and you can see the blue starting to happen.   (I don’t have exact amounts… just play with this).   I love the purple blue color.   It would make a really interesting yarn if you plied the two colors together… similar color to these cabbage leaves in the above picture.

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UMM… Sorry Ben… (who still wanted to eat the cabbage) this is what the cabbage looked like when it was finished cooking in the baking soda water.  I didn’t taste it nor did I allow Ben to try the cabbage… although I was kind of tempted.  Next time I will take the cabbage out first and will not waste it.

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I  added the yarn to the cabbage water and let it simmer for two hours (not to hot).   The color came to a gray-forest green color.   I was not sure that I like this color either.  Two fails… hmm… leaves me with only one option… combine the two by plying both colors together.  This way it is only one fail or maybe two negatives will make a positive.

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Here is the result…kind of a green gray. I am not sure that you can see the color well in the pictures…  let  me know what you think.

Quick Update (7/4)

I began a new scarf. with this yarn.. (the only thing I know how to knit… need to learn how to knit a sweater… next goal)  I think you can see the color better when it is knitted.

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