Natural Dyeing Results: Quebracho Red & Birch Bark

Natural dyeing results are rarely what you expect, but I am rarely disappointed.  The colors will most always be muted, sometimes bright–but usually not.  What I love about natural dye colors is that they all work together.  So your gray and pink and red and blue, tan and yellow will all look cohesive when viewed side by side.

The Quebracho red exhaust was definitely muted but I expected same with an exhaust bath as opposed to the original, which was brighter.  I love the mauve-gray tones achieved with this bath.

Quebracho red exhaust samples
I slipped in an un-mordanted piece of ramie just to see what would happen! This looks the same as the birch bark piece…little to no change in color.

Birch bark left the cotton cloth just slightly colored with a light yellow, which is about what was expected.  Birch bark dye may not knock your socks off, but it also acts as a natural tannin, which may be used in place of other mordants.

After finishing with the birch bark and quebracho red exhaust, I decided to experiment with black beans.  I had read you could use the soaking water from black beans to dye cloth.  I tried the black beans boiled, black beans with soda ash wash and black beans with an iron dip.

black bean dyed ramie with iron dip

Guess my fave?  I’ve already started two new dye pots.

Next up:  Pomegranate and copper mordanting for color change.


Woad-dyed Sewing Project

Recently, I made my first woad vat and–although the vat depleted too quickly for my taste–I did get a few pieces of cloth for my efforts.  I had in mind a sleeveless summer top made from woad-dyed organic jersey knit, which turned out to be just enough for the project.

In the past, I have struggled with sewing any kind of knit fabric and have experimented with different methods of sewing, including using a ball point needle, a twin needle, and zigzag stitching.  At one point, I became so frustrated with the process that I decided to sew a garment by hand.

This time, I once again consulted my Janome sewing machine manual; but this time, I discovered a new page (an insert to the manual) I had not noticed before.  It showed appropriate stitches for various projects and the proper settings, and there was something called “knit stitch.”  I tried it and it worked.  It basically looks to me like a “serger”stitch, that overcasting stitch seen on some sports apparel (see below)  The only problem I found with this stitch is that it gobbles up an amazing amount of thread, and I have subsequently almost run out of my Gutermann light blue thread.

Next time:  The finished woad dyed knit tunic.

woad-dyed cotton jersey


Second dyeing with woad: organic cotton jersey on left, linen yardage on right.

knit stitch on cotton jersey

More Spring Cleaning & WIPS Part 2

Ten days have passed since my first attempt at spring cleaning, and the problem seems to be that as I begin to clean I find more and more fiber treats.  Then, of course, I must sort through them.  That involves remembering when and where I acquired them.  And making new piles of fiber.  And putting aside a few choice pieces for current projects.

And then there’s the roving which I can now use for spinning.  Yes, I am trying to teach myself how to spin.  Don’t those videos of spinners make it look so easy and relaxing?  I am not there yet.

And then there are the small weaving projects which sometimes get incorporated into my slow stitching projects.

And natural dyed scraps which have been tucked away for future projects.             There are buttons, beads and trim, and plenty of embroidery threads.  So many choices and so little time.