I’m trying out a new sock base, a GOTS certified, superwash organic merino. As I only had a few skeins I thought I’d try a few different dyes, all the skeins were pre-treated with 7% alum and I picked a few seasonal plants.
To make it really easy I decided on Dahlia flowers, Common Reed flowers and Tansy.
In front of the shed is a large plant of Dahlia Labryinth. It’s one tuber that I leave in over winter, out of all the dahlias it is the first to flower and just doesn’t stop. I cut the flowers that were beginning to fade using ten flowers.
The tansy I grew from seed last year and there is a small bed of the plants behind the green house. I used both the flowers and stems.
The reed flower are Phragmites australis and grow along the river and ditches locally. I used just the flowers before they set seed.
The dyes were all prepared in the same way. The dye material was chopped up if needed, covered in tap water and then heated to 85°C.
The pans were simmered for an hour and then allowed to cool overnight. Next day I strained of the plant material and returned the liquid to the pans with the plant material ending up on the compost heap.
One skein of yarn was added to each pan, heated to about 80°C and then simmered for an hour before the heat was turned off and allowed to cool.
The dahlia dye was really strong and the yarn took up the colour as soon as it went in.
The reed liquid is red when it’s strained
The reed dye took awhile to be absorbed. I have dyed with reed before where the yarn came out a really yucky red/brown instead of green. I tried washing the dye out, thinking I could over dye it with madder and it slowly turned green in the wash. Very strange!
Superwash yarn usually takes up dye better than untreated yarn but this base really absorbed the colour. I may have to knock the colours back a bit by over dyeing with walnut, they’re a bit bright for me.
Now I just have to knit the socks.