I did some natural dyeing on cotton with cochineal. For those of you who don’t know cochineal is a dried insect from South America . It’s been used for getting purple colour around the world for centuries, I believe first by the Mayans and the Aztecs. It was very popular before synthetic dyes were invented. I like to use the whole ones (not the powder) because it’s easier to clean. I had premordanted the fabric with taro root powder and alum, you can read about it here.
I have done bundle dyeing before with cochineal on cotton, but never full cochineal dye. I have dyed wool yarn and I have written a blog post about it, you can read it here. Last time the colour was a lot more pink, I think I might have used cream of tartar which I have read might affect the colour. I did one mistake with trying to dye too much of fabric at the same time with a “small pot” (10 litres). The fabric should always have enough space to move around so the result will be even. That’s why I like using shibori techniques, where it doesn’t matter if the result is even or not. Wool yarn is much easier to dye evenly in my opinion. Leena at Riihivilla (where I buy my cochineal) has written an amazingly detailed post about cochineal both in Finnish and in English that I recommend for more information.
This shibori wrapped around a bottle turned out nice! I have used the same technique (arashi?) with onion skin dye here, where I talk a little bit more about it. This time it worked much better with much lighter fabric.
I did some mushroom dyeing with surprise webcap caps this week. I was very surprised (no bun intended) by them. I was expecting darker more orange toned autumn colours. According to Leena at the Riihivilla younger mushrooms have more orange colours and older mushrooms have more red colours, but that the colours can differ a lot depending on where they have grown etc. Also a funny thing is that the caps have red colour and the stems yellow colour so you can have two different colours from them! This time I only used the caps.
Six years ago I actually collected the mushrooms myself and got lovely orange colour with wool yarn. You can read that post here. Keep in mind that these mushrooms are poisonous, not edible! This time I used some mushrooms I bought from Riihivilla online shop a year ago. Maybe the age has something to do with these pinks? Or the tara powder I used to mordant my cotton? I really don’t know.
I alway, always have different pots and utensils for dyeing and cooking, but especially for these mushrooms! I added the mushrooms at the bottom of the pot and added a little pit of water, not full. I let the mushrooms simmer for an hour (about 80-90 degrees celsius). Then I sifted the mushrooms away and added more water to the dye.
I put the mushrooms inside old pantyhose, so I could put them in the dye bath with the fabric. I mordanted my cotton sheet with tara powder and alum. The post I wrote about it is here.
I simmered the fabric in the dye bath for about two hours in 80-90 degrees celsius (I don’t measure temperatures so much these day). I let the fabric cool in the pot and then rinsed the fabric. I read afterwards that its good to add some vinegar to the rinsing water when dyeing with these mushrooms so the colour will last better.
I used some iron modifier to some of the fabrics and they turned violet! The beige one is from when I dyed a new fabric in the same dye bath, it came out light pink and when I added it in iron water it turned beige. Such different results!
I “made” the iron water by putting some rusty screws in a glass jar with water and vinegar. I have also done some rust dyeing experiments so I used the rinsing water from them.
I also did some shibori spiral experiments.
The swirl worked fine, but I really need to use a thinner fabric when making this kind of folded shibori. I might just keep adding some other dye experiment on it. All and all dyeing with surprise webcaps was very interesting and not at all what I expected. But that’s the nature of natural dyes. You never know what you get!
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.
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.
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.
I didn’t get a sky blue or green (as some people have had) but a lavender colour.
The grey yarn on the other hand did turn out a beautiful navy blue.
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.)
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.
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.