Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dyeing with Mullein ... and food coloring... and Crystal Light!

I wanted to try some more natural dyeing and saw all this mullein plant growing everywhere. I did some research and found out that it dyes a shade of yellowish gold so I thought I'd give it a try.

Well, as you can see from the photo, it came out rather blah and unappealing. I dyed with 2 different types of natural colored yarn, a Henry's Attic Kona superwash DK weight from my lys and a soft worsted weight merino from Stonehedge Fiber Mill. The superwash was a little more interesting looking because it took more of the dye but I was pretty disappointed with both of them. So, I decided to see what an ammonia dip would do to the yarn. It made it brighter looking but I was still not thrilled with the color. Plus, the yarn from Stonehedge got a little matted up in the dye pot, between mordanting and dyeing. So, I decided to just let the yarn dry and think about what to do with it.

We were still up in northern Michigan, so my options for other dyes were somewhat limited. I decided to try overdyeing it with food coloring. I bought some basic McCormick food coloring at the local grocery store and started mixing. After a lot of experimenting, I came up with a color I liked. I think I used the following proportions in a solution of 8 C water and 3/4 C vinegar: 1 1/4 t yellow, 1/4 t green, 1/2 t blue and 7 drops red. I added the red last so it wasn't mixed in perfectly. I did this intentionally so that the color would be a little mottled. I used this concoction to overdye the superwash yarn and I was very pleased with how it turned out:

So, next I wanted to overdye the other skein. By now, I had used up all of the yellow food coloring so my options were more limited. I played around with the colors but wasn't happy at all with what I came up with. Finally, in desperation, I saw a box of raspberry ice flavored Crystal Light on the shelf. Now, I had no idea if it would even work, dyeing with artificial sugar. I dumped in 7 of the individual packets and really liked the color. It wasn't quite red and wasn't quite pink. My only concern was that it looked like I had burned the yarn when I took it out of the dyepot but it was only a heavy concentration of dye that rinsed out. Here is how the color came out:

This skein really took a beating after all the dyeing and overdyeing, and I was admittedly feeling bad that it had started to felt up a bit, especially given how lovely it was before I started dyeing with it. It still feels soft, it is just more nubby and has almost a handspun look to it. I'm sure I will still use it but I have decided that from now on I'm only going to dye with superwash yarn if it has to be mordanted - it is just not worth it to me to ruin the yarn's texture.

1 comment:

Bright Meadow Farms said...

Thanks for posting this, I have recently started to experiment with natural dyes and I got a similar color from dandelion blossoms..