Change of plan regarding dyeing with woad!

I have been doing a project linked to my spinners and dyers guild which has involved dyeing with weld – so I thought I would share that with you for this blog.

I grow weld each year and either use it fresh from mid summer through to early autumn, then I dry it and use it throughout the year. Weld is a Mediterranean herb which was used by the Romans to dye the robes of the Vestal Virgins.

Weld in flower last July (2011)

As Weld flowers between June and August I used weld which I dried last autumn. Fresh weld gives a slightlty stronger yellow than the dried, however dried weld is still a lovely lightfast colour.

I first soaked the dried weld overnight in a bag made from garden fleece and then simmered it for an hour on a low heat. After which time, I turned off the heat and left to cool overnight.

Dried welding - first soaking overnight - then simmering for an hour.

Dried welding – first soaking overnight – then simmering for an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then removed the bag of weld and saved it to use again later to give me a paler yellow.

In the meantime I soaked 600g of alum mordanted fibre for several hours in plain water and when the dyebath was ready I put them in the pan and slowly simmered for an hour.

I then turned off the heat and left the fibres to saok overnight.

The next day I rinsed the fibres very carefully in tepid water until the water ran clear and left them to dry outside in the shade.

Weld dyed fleece drying in the shade

Weld dyed fleece drying in the shade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When dry I divided the fibres into six groups of 100g each as I want to demonstrate the effect that diferent modifiers has on the colour of the fibre.

The range of colours that can be achieved using natural dyes may be expanded by changing the alkalinity or acidity of the dyebath.

See the gallery below for samples.

As a point of interest below is an image of some alpacas fibre dyed with fresh weld last September (2011) Compare the depth of colour with that of the dried weld in Sample 1.

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Alpaca fibre dyed using fresh weld last September.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice in sample 2 – adding ammonia as a modifier increased the depth of colour with the dried weld.

To make iron water, put rusty nails in a glass jar with a lid. Fill the jar with 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar. Leave for 3 – 4 weeks and the water will turn brown – ideal for natural dyeing when a iron modifier is required.

To make copper water, put pieces of copper pipe in a glass jar with a lid. Fill the jar with 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar. Leave for 3 – 4 weeks and the water will turn blue – ideal for natural dyeing when a copper modifier is required.

Interested in natural dyeing? Would you like to learn more? Check out my natural dye workshops on my website. www.dyeing-crafts.co.uk

In addition to dyeing with weld this last week I have sown more woad and weld seeds. My madder seeds have all come through now (most of them anyway!).

It isn’t too late for you to sow your dye seeds for this year. Experience the satisfaction of growing and using your own home grown dyes.

Woad for beautiful blue

Weld for yummy yellow

Madder for marvelous red

Dye seeds are available on my website.

In the meantime – I shall carry on dyeing naturally!

Jean

 

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