While most of my dye projects are not of that magnitude, it bears remembering. I have a large collection of white and off white crochet thread that I use to make my snoods, hairnets, belt pouches and shell bags. I do smaller batches, although I have dyed a large amount of wool. For that I had to use a plastic bin in my tub as my washing machine is a front loader.
I have used dandelions, celery leaves, red tea, black tea, yellow onion skin, red wine and dried red rose petals. Dandelions and celery leaves give you an amazing clear, buttery yellow. Red tea dyes an interesting sepia tone. Black tea makes it look aged. Yellow onion skin does an orange (surprising). The red wine goes an interesting pinkish brown. I'm told that red onion skins goes green, I want to try that. I also want to try grass, hey if it stains pants it must be a great dye. I also want to try fresh rose petals as the dried ones make a light brown. I also want to try carrots.
Here's where I get most of my ideas for what to try to make a dye bath. What stains the worst. Seriously, I tried the red wine because I like the color of the stains on white napkins. I'm also going to try strawberries (the parts you cut out before eating, I like strawberries way to much to waste the actual berry). Blueberries may be interesting too.
I did some research online and I use an Alum mordant. It seems to be the best to use with plant dyes.
The process is easy. Take a couple of pots, none reactive is best so it doesn't affect the color. In one put enough water to totally submerge what you are dying. Then put some alum in, about a tablespoon for a large pot of water. Bring to a boil then add what you are dying. Lower the heat and simmer for about five minutes. Rinse with cool water then squeeze out any excess water.
To make the dye bath, cut up the plant or whatever you are using and put it into another pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for about 20 minutes. If you are using tea brew it in a large bowl for about five to ten minutes. Strain out all plant material.
|Dried rose petal bath|
|Snoods in a red tea bath|
You can save the dye bath in the refrigerator for up to a week. I will do this if I'm doing several snoods or other items and can't do them all at once.
Here's the whole process done with dandelions.
|Snoods in Alum|
|The dandelion petals in the water|
|After simmering for twenty minutes|
|Straining out the petals|
|The dye bath|