Friday, January 8, 2010

The Guild Dye Exchange

I belong to the Wasatch Woolpack Handspinners Spinning Guild, and every year we have a dye exchange. This has to be the highlight of the year for me, it's almost like Christmas in March. How it works is the president tells us either what color we need to shoot for, or what kind of dye material we need to use. I think it's great, because it gets me out of comfort zones and forces me to learn and try new things.

This year the challenge is to "Dye From Your Pantry". In other words what do you have around the house inside or out that you can dye wool with. The options included plants, spices, and even Kool-aid. It just couldn't be an acid or other manufactured dye. The other rules are, you need to dye at least 2 pounds of good ready to spin roving.

After you have dyed and dried your wool you then divide it up into 1 ounce balls with the information on how you dyed your wool and your name. Then at the guild meeting in March everyone gets to show and tell about their adventures. Then we all go around and pick up one sample of everyone elses dyed wool. We all go home with about 2 pounds of wonderfully different colored wool.

I thought I would start my 2 pounds today. I decided to use a plant that grows in my garden, so last September I pruned back my sage bushes and hung the stems to dry until I needed them.

To prepare the wool for dying, I need to let my wool soak in plain water so the wool will absorb the dye, and not just the water when it goes in the dye pot. Here is my wool soaking, it will need to soak until tomorrow when I will then mordant it. I'll explain more about that latter.

Here is my sage that I dried earlier last fall. It smells wonderful.

To make a dye pot out of this sage, I first need to strip the leaves off the stems.

Since the leaves are so dry, they crumble quite easily. The kitchen area really smelled strong of sage after I finished doing this.

The leaves are then put into a large stock pot with water to simmer. I usually do this for about 1 hour. I will then turn off the heat and let the leaves steep in the water until tomorrow morning.
Then I will strain the plant material out of the water and the dye pot will be ready for dying.

After only a short time the color is already going into the water, but I want a really deep green and the longer the leaves are in the water the better my chances are of getting the color that I want.

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