Saturday, July 18, 2015

First Dip into Natural Dyes- Lemongrass!

I've always wanted to try natural dying, since I first read instructions in the English textbook I had in first grade about how to dye a shirt various colours using different weeds.  I've tried the occasional coffee bath on my yarn, but it usually washed out.  I have since found out that it was because I ought to have let it soak for a while, after looking up countless tutorials and help pages for natural dyers.

What strengthened this interest so that I wanted to really do it this time?  Why, the beautiful patterns of Caitlin Ffrench, especially her Common Bean shawl.  That Common Bean finally made me decide- yes, I am going to try dyeing again, but seriously.  So when there was an oversteeped lemongrass tea sitting on my stove, I got out one of my beautiful skeins of naturally coloured Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace and got to work.

I followed all the instructions I'd read, but I was impatient.  I let it soak in a vinegar/water bath for an hour, then took it out and dunked it right in my wicked brew of lemongrass.  I splashed it a bit with green food colouring and some red right on the yarn so it had a mottled look, and but I now know I did not give it time to penetrate the fibers.  I threw some homemade jamaica concentrate into the mix as well, but it also did not soak in, likely due to the fact that I stewed for an hour before removing my yarn from heat, and washed it after another hour.

After taking my dyed yarn out of the pot, straining it in the shower (waaaay too messy and smelly for the kitchen sink), I squeezed it until it was just damp and hung it up in the shower to dry.  I loved the colour, but it seemed too light and I was afraid it would dry to be an off-white minty colour, which would still have been nice, but not what I wanted.  Nonetheless, my yarn took the lemongrass and green food colouring well, and the patchy bits of colour look quite nice to me.  Now I know for next time!
Lemongrass + 3 drops of green food colouring results: 
before drying (left) and after drying (right)



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