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Friday, 12 September 2008

Dyeing with Rosemary and Onion Skins

The 9"x5" Market is on again, this Sunday and I'm busy trying to make some silk scarves. A more luxurious item, that can, hopefully translate into either Summer scarves or Christmas presents.

As part of this project, I've tried some natural dyeing. The usual dyeing process involving Landscape dyes.


The first one I tried was with Rosemary. At first it was a bit disappointing and unfortunately difficult to photograph. The colour is a soft golden almost, but not quite, green. The colour you're supposed to achieve with Rosemary is a green. However, upon further reading of India Flint's 'Eco colour' I figure I should have harvested and chopped up the leaves, off the branches I trimmed, instead of just chucking in the whole lot as they came off the bush. I will try that next time.
The next dye I was really keen to use was Onion Skins. I have dyed with this at the Plant Craft Cottage in the Botanical Gardens and loved the colour this humble plant material provided. My local green grocer, generously provided me with a bag of onion skins. (It would have taken me months to collect a bagful!)
I wasn't disappointed. This beautiful, I don't want to say 'brown' as it doesn't convey the colour, Autumn leaf colour will knit into a beautiful scarf.
The process of dyeing is simple. I chose to use a more gentle method as suggested by India Flint, of bringing the dye material to a boil and then letting the pot brew. This worked very well with both materials and when I finally added the yarn as well. I simply bought the dyepot to the heat and then let it sit.
As these scarves are made from yarn which is both wool and silk, it is interesting how well the silk takes up the dye, to the detriment of the wool. To get a strong colour on the wool, I'm going to have to dye it separately. The natural dyes are noticeable, but the commercial red dye I used, really shows the difference.
There's so much to try.

1 comment:

Leonie said...

I like the rosemary colour and it makes sense that if the leaves aren't "broken" then the green won't leach out to enable the dyeing to work, so it will be interesting to see how the broken leaves will work to make green. The onion skins do indeed dye up into onion skin colour!!! Very beautiful. Hopefully I will be at snb on Tuesday, I have something to show....