Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Unrepeatable Purple

I am SO pleased with this purple! So lovely :) It's made, unfortunately, with an unrepeatable technique...using a random amount of mixed berries from a 'black forest fruits' pack from Morrisons (a UK supermarket). I think it was a combination of blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and possibly morello cherries. The dye was quite concentrated and I soaked it for about 96 hours (it was stuck at uni and I couldn't get to it, so I was forced to be patient). It had sun on it for maybe a quarter of those hours and I think that probably intensified the colour. It's so pretty, I wish I'd made more! 

- Kate

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bootfair Finds

Last week I went to a fab bootfair about 10 minutes away from my house. I spent £8.50 and got all these lovely things. It's been so long since I went to a good bootfair! (Non-UK readers - A bootfair/boot sale is a like a yard sale, but in a big public space like a field or a car park). I've already been again, and since it's every Sunday I plan on going every week til I move back home for summer. 

Pretty plates - £1 for the pair

Director's chair - £5

Apron - 50p

Lacy net curtain - £1

Purple...thing - 50p

Pot holder - 50p

This is what I bought this Sunday:

Ilford Sportsman Camera (1969 ish) - £5
Unfortunately doesn't seem to work, the bit where you wind the film on only works when the back of the camera is open, obviously not very useful when using film! Still, it's a nice addition to my very small collection.

Minolta Hi-Matic S2 Camera (1979 ish) - £2

I'm not sure why this camera collecting has started, but I intend to post my developed films up once they're done (which could be a while because I don't want to waste it). It could be really interesting to see the results as I suspect they will be less than perfect! Fortunately, less than perfect makes for interesting viewing. 

I also got a pretty bracelet type watch for £1.50 which it turns out is broken, but perhaps still nice as an accessory, and a glass bottle for 25p. 

- Kate

How to Make Blue Using Black Turtle Beans

When I first started dyeing wool, I thought that blue could only be obtained from indigo and woad, both of which I would have to buy on the internet. However, when I was trying to find a good way of making green, I stumbled across this blog, where a nice lady called Cynthia somehow makes a beautiful green dye using dried black beans. I used almost the exact recipe (apart from the amount of beans, which I just guessed), and discovered my first blue.

I can't be exact while describing how I made this colour, because I never weighed the beans or measured the amount of water I used. Silly me. However, after creating the second, darker type of blue (below), I realised that the concentration of the dye was more important than the weight of beans that I used. For both colours I used alum as a mordant. (See this post for a tutorial on preparing yarn for dyeing).

For the light blue, I used approximately 150g of beans and spread them across the bottom of a large tupperware tub (about 7" x 12"), then I added about an inch of water. I soaked the beans for 12 hours, drained the water and put it to one side, then added another inch of water. I drained this water also and used both lots together to dye 25g of wool. After about 12 hours I added another 25g skein of wool, and a few hours after that I added yet another 25g skien. The first skein was soaked for about 24 hours, with the others removed at the same time. They all came out almost exactly the same colour. 

For the dark blue, I used about 100g of beans in a much smaller tub. This one was about 6" x 8" (a typical Chinese take-away tub if you live in the UK) and only just one inch deep, so I filled it almost to the top and followed the same process of soaking the beans for 12 hours, twice. This time the amount of liquid I ended up with was just over a jarful, so not very much. I soaked a 25g skein of wool for 48 hours. The jar was also in sunlight for part of the day (when I made the other blue there was barely any sun) so this may have had an effect on the intensity of the colour, but I think it's more the fact that the dye was more concentrated. 

As usual, leave a comment if this isn't clear enough and I will do my best to help!

- Kate

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Colours! Jars! Sunshine!

I have some exciting new colours to post up tomorrow! Unfortunately daylight ran out before I had a chance to take photos, so we will have to be patient. They're looking really lovely together, and it seems 'sun-dyeing' is pretty effective when using cold dyes (except I suppose they wouldn't be that cold)!

I made up ten jars of dye for my assessment which was on Monday, and just took the wool out of the jars today. Three of them had mould growing which was pretty grim, but I put them through a quick wash in the washing machine (without soap) and they've fared pretty well so I'll show photos of them tomorrow too. Colours coming up are from jars of:

  • Black beans
  • Madder
  • Plum (mouldy)
  • Turmeric
  • Beetroot
  • Avocado (mouldy)
  • Annatto seeds
  • Tinned prunes (mouldy)
  • Onion
  • Mixed berries
Some of the colours are really great! 

This plus some other work I had on display in the sun has taught me which dyes fade the most (the majority were actually ok, but they were only out for a week), so I can do another post on that. It might come in useful :)

- Kate 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Beetroot Adventures

For my birthday, my friend Holly bought me some lovely springform cake tins, one of which is the shape of a heart, so I decided to make a cake. When I came to making icing, I realised I didn't have any food colouring, and since I'd made the simplest, most basic cake on Earth, I really wanted it to be a bit more interesting!

I had a bit of a search through the cupboards and the fridge, and found some beetroot at the back of the fridge. I hate beetroot (for a vegetarian I'm not a massive fan of most vegetables unfortunately), but I had bought it to dye wool with. You may have seen what happened the last time I tried to dye wool with beetroot, but here's a photo:

I've grown to like it, but it wasn't quite what I was after! 

Anyway, back to food colouring. I didn't have any, and I wanted some! So I used the juice from the packet (I didn't want to use too much in case I ended up with beetroot-flavoured icing) to make baby pink icing. Here's the result:

So if you'd like to avoid food colouring for whatever reason, here's the recipe I used/made up:

175g of icing sugar
70g of softened butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon juice
A splash of milk
3 tbsp beetroot juice

Basically it's buttercream icing with a couple of extras. I used the vanilla essence and lemon juice to make sure there was no beetroot flavour and it seems to have worked quite nicely. Now I want to try other colours! I bet turmeric would make a crazy bright yellow. Maybe spinach might be worth a try too.

Then, remembering the failed wool dyeing, I decided to try cold-dyeing some wool in beetroot juice. I mushed up 3 beetroots (I bought the pre-cooked ones) and strained out the bits. Then I poured in a random amount of white vinegar (about the same amount of liquid I already had) and put a 100g skein of unmordanted wool in. 

I don't have any pre-mordanted wool at the moment because I haven't got round to it, so that's why I added the white vinegar to the dye instead. I don't know if it made any difference, but after just 2 hours I ran the skein under the tap and no dye came out! Here's the wet wool after I rinsed it. It will probably be a bit lighter once dry, but the colour looks great!

That white patch is kind of infuriating though...

- Kate

Vegetable Dyes Mordanted with Alum

Onion peel is great fun. You do not need 100g per 100g of yarn though! Even the peel from 1 or 2 onions will give quite a deep colour. As you can see, red onions give a browner colour, whereas normal onions give a more golden colour. 

I have also tried cold dyeing with onion peel (below).

This definitely needs an attempt 2! I think a deeper colour (possibly more yellow than green) might be the result of a cold dyebath.

Compared to the amazing colour of the dyebath, these colours were quite disappointing! The dye looks amazing, it's a vibrant purple/blue colour, but just doesn't seem to stick to the yarn very well. 

Does this count as a vegetable? I'm not sure but it had to go somewhere! My boyfriend bought me a bunch of roses (aw) and I didn't want to throw them away when they died so I made a dye. Each dyebath used the heads of 6 roses. I won't bother with a hot dyebath again, because the colour is so similar to the brown from red onion peel, but the colour from the cold dyebath is quite a sweet lavender purple so if I'm lucky enough to get more roses (hint hint) I may do it again.

Thanks for reading!
- Kate

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fruit Dyes Mordanted with Alum

Here are some photos from my dye book showing the fruit dyes I have made:

Skin of one passion cut off and simmered for 1 hour, then 25g of wool simmered for one hour. This is a beautiful soft green and I can't wait to try it again. This is NOT from an orange passion fruit, just the usual purpley coloured ones.

These blackcurrants were from my pack of frozen 'black forest fruits', I used as many as I could find and didn't weigh them but I suspect it was about 75-100g to just two 25g skeins of wool. I simmered these straight from frozen so had to use a potato masher to squish them in the pan. These were my first bright/deep colours and I love them. The second more purple colour uses the same dyebath, but after the first skein had taken most of the bright colour. I think it's quite interesting as you wouldn't have guessed they were from the same dye! Let me know if you are interested in variegated wool and I will make a photo tutorial :)

I used 50g of red grapes to dye these skeins. It doesn't show well in the photo but the dipped parts of the second skein are a lovely pale blue.

I used a different wool here and I think it is more susceptible to dye. Unfortunately it costs a lot more so I haven't done very many experiments with it!

I used four avocados for this, I think I got a bit carried away! Both skeins were only 25g. The second time I dyed using the avocado pits (below) the colour was completely different, so I think I might have burnt the dye! I would advise cold dyeing with avocado, it seems to be a bit more reliable.

Love this one! The writing says: 
"1 - Simmered with turmeric for 10 minutes (a), then simmered in blackcurrant for 1 hour.
2 - Turmeric and blackcurrant in same dye bath, simmered for 1 hour."

Thanks for reading!


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