A couple of days ago I tidied up our art cabinet. I sorted through craft supplies, yarn, needles and thread and was reunited with some roving and hand spun yarn I had not touched in a while. I decided to do something with the yarn. I checked out the lovely book Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess from the library which clearly outlined the processes for dying wool with items from nature. Inspired by the material in the book and the abundance of lupines near by, I decided to do some experimentation. In Harvesting Color lupines are not featured, but there were very clear instructions for the mordant, a general master dye bath, and an afterbath.
Here's What I did:
First I collected lupine petals. The lupines are blooming in abundance in my neck of the woods. Many are starting to go to seed. It was easy to pull off the petals in one quick swipe down the stem and it took my kiddos and I just about 20 minutes to fill up this large basket and 2 gallon bucket with petals.
For the mordant I presoaked my fiber in an alum and water mixture. I then hung the fiber to dry.
I created the dye bath by boiling the lupine petals. I packed in as much as I could without the dye bath boiling over. I let it boil for over an hour then let the petals soak in the dye bath overnight. The lupine petals in the water for over 24 hours to create the dye bath, which was a deep purple color.
After I strained the plant matter out of the dye bath. I put the fiber in the pot. I let it sit overnight before I took the yarn and roving out to dry.
I was anticipating a purple color, but what I got was a beautiful shade of green!
I am so very pleased with the results!
I am excited to get this yarn on some needles! (I am planning on spinning up the remainder of the wool.) During the process I also dried some lupine petals in our dehydrator. I have hopes to share this process with my kindergarten students during the school year. I also am planning to use some of the petals in my soaps.
This was a fun and successful experiment with natural dyes!