Thursday, November 12, 2009
Dyeing Wool with Black Walnuts
My sister sent me some black walnuts that she had picked up down in Arizona with the thought that I could use them to dye some wool. It took me a while to get around to it but I finally did it. I soaked the black walnuts in a large stock pot for a couple of days. I was going to soak overnight but it turned into a couple of nights. I strained out the walnuts and other gunk and was left with a dark brown dye bath. I then heated up the dye bath to a simmer and placed the wool yarn in the pot. I then turned the heat way down so it the wool would not turn into felt in the pot. After a bit, I turned the heat off completely and let it soak all afternoon. I noticed that the color wasn't soaking into the yarn that well so I added some alum into the bath. Alum is used as a mordant which helps set the dyes into the wool. There are many other mordants such as tannic acid, sodium chloride, salts of aluminum, chromium, copper and iron. These aren't that readily available so I used what I could pick up at the local grocery store which was alum. I believe that the color ended up a bit lighter because I may have needed more walnuts. I will get some more from my sister hopefully and try it again. Black Walnuts are supposed to be the best for natural dyeing. It was fun to try it and I will do some more natural dyeing as soon as I get my hands on other plants. Plus I need some lessons from our expert Misslynn. Now I just need to figure out what I want to knit up with my new color.
I found this great website...check it out! Pioneer Thinking.