Not Cooking – Dyeing

I know that you may think that  I have thoroughly lost it in the confusion of my home or that the heat had caused me to totally have a “melt down” – pardon the pun – when I show you the following photo.

These are carrot tops merrily boiling away on my stove.  No they aren’t for a strange kind of soup – nor are they some sort of strange experiment.

They are in fact being boiled in order to extract their colour so I can dye some wool with them.

Yes I know it sounds strange but it does work.  You need to use mature carrot tops for this.  There is more colour in them – young carrot leaves don’t have the same intensity of colour I have found.

There’s no real science to it – just bung them in the pot with enough water to cover and bring to the boil.  “Cook” – and I use the term loosely – for about half an hour then allow them to cool in the water.  Strain and the dye is ready to use.

The end result – depending on the type of mordant you use – gives you several different shades of green.

The pale almost yellowish green is carrot dye with alum added to it.  The darker green is carrot dye with iron added to it.  The same iron that you use around your garden to prevent or repair iron deficiency in your plants.  Pretty basic stuff.  That stunning shade of purple is Cochineal Food Dye – the kind you use to colour the icing on your cakes.  About a capful to a litre of water.

My Inspiration????   I bought a new book.  Yes I know another one, but I couldn’t resist.

“Dyeing to Knit” by Elaine Eskesen.  I did heaps of looking around before I bought this book wondering if it was as good as the reviews said it was – and it is!!.  Not only are you encourged to try new methods but also to experiment and not worry about mistakes.  There are several techniques that I had heard of but not tried before and yesterdays effort was the first – Space Dyeing.  Pretty simple stuff I know but I lacked the confidence – well no more…vbg.  Not only does she encourage you to dye your own hand spun wool but also to experiment with dyeing commercially prepared yarn – all sorts of prepared yarn.  Anything is possible according to this book.  There is a brilliant section on colours and how to experiment with them and how to get ideas. I don’t know about anyone else but colour theory is the bit that escapes me on a constant basis.  After reading this book I am beginning to understand it just a little better.  I know that sounds weird considering the strange combinations of colour I come up with at times – but honestly I just work on instinct and sometimes its right and sometimes it’s horribly wrong….lol.

Yesterdays experiment was space dyeing. Super fun and easy – having patience for each section of the wool to take the dye is the hardest bit.  I think (at times my measurements can be a bit off if I get distracted while counting) I have about 100 metres of pure 8 ply wool dyed.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it but I do know I’m enjoying looking at it and dreaming. 

Now to find the time to spin some more wool and experiment with that instead of commercially prepared wool.


6 thoughts on “Not Cooking – Dyeing

  1. Catherine your dyeing looks great and the socks so comfortable and warm. You are amazing how much you get through as well as run the family and help Ashley.

    I looove your table topper.

    Did you get your book through Amazon?

  2. Pingback: Not Cooking – Dyeing (via Calidore) | The Road To Dreamland

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