Natural Dyeing: Beetroot in two different ways

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METHOD 1:

For my first try I used about 500 g of fresh beetroots. I peeled and chopped them and then I boiled them in water for little under two hours (I needed to keep adding water because it was drying out). After that I sifted the dye and added a 13 g skein of white wool yarn that I had pre mordanted with alum (read about it here). I boiled the yarn for 1 hour in the dye, this is basically the same method I used when I dyed with lupine. I did add a bit of vinegar to the final rinsing water to help stabilize the colour. I knew that the result would be orange and not the pink colour you would expect from beetroot. I really like this orange, it’s not the brownish orange you get from onion shells (although that’s pretty as well). I think there is still a tiny hint of that pink left in this one.

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METHOD 2:

My second try was a bit more experimental. I have been doing a lot more cold dyeing lately and I wanted to try that with beetroot as well. For this I used some pre boiled beetroots that you can buy vacuum packed. I put the beetroots (three of them) to the food processor and made mince out of them. I must say this method was much easier and much less messy then the previous one. I poured the mince in to a glass jar and filled it with water. I let the beetroot mince soak in the water for 24 hours, before sifting it from the dye.

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After sifting the amount of dye decreased considerably.  I put in 35 g of white wool yarn that I had previously mordanted with alum. I let the yarn soak in the dye for 24 hours (stirring it every once in a while) before rinsing and drying.

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The result turned out to be this baby pink colour. Has anyone got any experience with beetroot? Does the colour stay or does it fade away? I also thought it was interesting how two different methods got me completely different results.

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Knitting with the colours of nature

During the past few months I have collected quite a versatile collection of different coloured yarns, that I have dyed naturally. I find these colours very inspiring and I think they go so well together.  I think that’s part of the charm of the natural dyed yarns, the way they match so well. The autumn is here. I can’t believe September is almost gone already! The weather is getting colder here in Finland and because of that and these yarns I feel like knitting.

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I started out with this knitted beanie. This wool yarn use to be grey before I dyed it with heather. I wanted a simple cable pattern beanie with a pompom on top. This pattern is not from anywhere, I just made it up as I knitted it. It’s not perfect, but I still quite like it. These photos with the beanie were taken by a friend of mine Riikka with a lovely Marianna as model. These photos are a little sneak peek into a project that I have been working on during the past few months. This week we had a really nice photo shoot, I can’t wait to share that soon.

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Natural Dyeing: Red Cabbage

Since I have been back to the city I have been experimenting more with vegetable dyes. I tried red cabbage, because I thought I could achieve blue with it. I read about it in this blog. Mine did not turn out blue but a rosy pink colour. I used pretty much the same dyeing technique as I did with lupine (read about it here). I had a red cabbage that weighed 577 g, I chopped it and boiled it to make the dye. I dyed 25 g of white wool yarn that I had previously mordanted with alum.

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The dye turned out very strong purple/red colour, but the finished colour is a rosy pink. At first I was disappointed with this colour but after a day I though it’s quite beautiful and sweet. Although not the kind of colour that I usually go for and definitely not blue. What I think happened is that the cabbage reacted to our tap waters PH. Apparently red cabbage is very sensitive for PH, with acidic it turns pink and with alkaline green. So that would indicate that our water is on an acidic side? I’m terrible at chemistry.  I also put a little bit of vinegar to the rinsing water (so the colour would stay better) but the colour was already pink before that . I have read that red cabbage is a bit risky because it tends to fade away in time. I’m not sure how fast that happens but I’m interested to find out. If any of you have some experiences I would be interested in hearing them.

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Natural Dyeing: Black Beans (looking for the blues)

The name of my blog is called The Easy Blues. That’s because I was listening John Martyn two months ago when I started this blog. Ironically blue is definitely not the easiest colour to achieve when talking about natural dyes. Until recently I thought it would only be possible with indigo and perhaps some mushrooms. But then I found this blog post about dyeing with black beans. The blogger had achieved a beautiful sky blue colour. I pretty much followed the same recipe but my results were a bit different.

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I started out with 100 g of dried black beans. I laid them in the bottom of a small takeaway tub, I filled it with water and let the beans soak for 12 hours. Then I collected the dye and filled it with water again and let the beans soak for another 12 hours. By this time I figured I needed more dye than what I was getting from this little container, so I filled another one and did the same as above. In the end I ended up using 200 g of black beans and 1 litre of water. Next time I might use a bigger container and soak the beans together for the whole 24 hours. I’m not sure if there will be any difference in the colour.

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I collected the dye to a glass jar and I put in 40 g skein of wool yarn that I had previously mordanted with alum (read about it here). I used both white and grey yarn to see the difference. I let the yarn stay in the dye for 24 hours, stirring the yarn every once in a while.

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I didn’t get a sky blue or green (as some people have had) but a lavender colour.

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The grey yarn on the other hand did turn  out a beautiful navy blue.

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I used the dye for a second time and but in a tiny 10 g skein of wool yarn for 24 hours. It came out lavender as well, but a little lighter shade (on the left.)

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One thing I did notice while winding the yarn balls was that the colour gets off. I don’t know if this is something I did wrong, maybe I didn’t rinse the yarn enough. I did add a bit of vinegar to the last rinsing water so that the colour would stay. Maybe this is normal for black bean dye? This is the first time I have noticed this kind of behavior with natural dyes.

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I do like the colours but I’m curious why mine turned out violet and not sky blue.  As always with natural dyes, you can never know what’s going to happen. Is it the type of beans I used? Is there really a difference between black beans and back turtle beans? What about the tap water that I used? Does the PH matter? I’m going to find out what is our tap waters PH and I’m also going to have another try with black beans. I will find that sky blue. Do you have any experiences with black beans? I did dye a little bit more of the navy blue yarn (below) but unfortunately my photo does not repeat that colour exactly as it is. The real colour is bit more grey. It’s quite difficult to photograph naturally dyed yarns because they change so much depending on the light.

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Sewing time

I have been doing a lot of sewing lately. I was cleaning up my closets one day and found some swatches that I designed and weaved with a computer aided loom a couple of years ago. I quite like these designs and I thought it’s a shame that they are hidden away in some folder. I decided I will sew them into little purses that I can keep with me. So know these little swatches have a useful purpose and I can enjoy them.

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Natural Dyeing: Cow Parsley, Meadowsweet and Fireweed

During my summer of natural dyeing I have found many plants from which you can get similar kinds of shades of yellow and green. Usually white yarns turn to yellow and grey yarns to green. I have collected some of them in here. All the yarns displayed have been mordanted previously with alum (read about it here.) I used the same technique as I did when dyeing with lupine (read about it here.)

 COW PARSLEY

I collected the cow parsley early in the summer when they were blooming. The result was not the most intensive one but still pretty.

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MEADOWSWEET

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FIREWEED

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Both meadowsweet (on the left) and fireweed (on the right) were collected early in June when they were not yet blooming.

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