April 2008

Organic Dyeing

I have never been interested in dyeing yarn. I always thought with so many different colors, why should I spend my time dyeing instead of knitting/crocheting? However, recently I have become more and more interested in organic dyeing. I know many people dye their own yarn with the use of mordant, but I do not like to use highly acidic or alkaline mordant, as they are not good for the environment. Besides, dumping excess dye with mordant has its own problems, and may be illegal in some municipalities. Then I remembered in the 70ís my sister dyed a muslin dress with black tea and she didnít use any mordant. This sent me on a quest for substantive dyes (dyes that do not need mordant).

I found out that many plants can create beautiful color without harming the environment. These dyes work on any organic material, Cellulose fibers (cotton, hemp, linen) or protein fibers (wool, silk etc.). Some do not need any mordant, or need benign mordant such as lemon juice or white vinegar. Sometimes you just need to boil yarn in the dye-bath for several hours to get the right color and save the dye-bath for further use. Sounds interesting, doesnít it? Here are some examples:

I already have most of these items at home. My two pomegranate trees just started to bloom and walnut trees are abundant in my area. You can easily guess what I will be doing this summer. I am sure I will have a lot of successes and heartbreaks, but I know I will not learn unless I try.

If you have experimented with any of these dyeing techniques and like to share your experience, please let me know. I will include them in this newsletter.

For a more information about natural dyeing, check out the following sources:

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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