More dyeing from the garden
The Golden Rod (Solidago giganticea) has made a tremendous show in the garden this year, possibly because I completely cleared the beds in the spring and removed every scrap of ground elder and bindweed root I could. They have grown very tall but withstood the recent winds well.
I have been intending to use them more for dyeing and this year seemed the time to do that. I also intended to try natural dyeing with Jamieson and Smith cobweb yarn and also their finer Supreme yarn.(1) I have seen the supreme dyed but this seemed to be using acid dyes. Using natural dyes is more difficult as the yarn is heated to a higher temperature for much longer than is the case with the relatively easy acid dyeing. I also wanted a rich solid colour. I am going to use these fine yarns for knitting fine Shetland Lace oblong shawls. To me the pattern of the motifs is what must stand out in fine lace and this must not be camouflaged by random dyed yarn.
So as usual when trying something different a series of trials was needed. I decided initially to use the slow cooker for the mordanting and the dyeing of these fine yarns and some fleece, thinking that I would protect them from the prolonged higher temperature. After the mordanting I dyed the fleece by my normal method with modifications and the skeins would be dyed in the slow cooker. The result of this experiment was striking, the colour of the skeins, both of cobweb and supreme, from the slow cooker was pale and insignificant. The fleece from the modified normal method using a pan on the hob gave a much stronger colour. But perhaps it was the fleece that was dyeing a better colour anyway!
More trials were needed so I started again, fresh dye material, etc with fresh skeins and still did the mordanting in the slow cooker but this time dyed the cobweb and supreme by my modified normal method.
All the skeins by both methods dyed very evenly. I feared the fine yarns might felt with the heating they were subjected to- in scouring, mordanting and dyeing. However, there was no hint of felting for either the cobweb or supreme yarns.
The conclusion from this was that I would be using my modified normal method of heating the fibres in a pan for further dyeing of cobweb or supreme fine fibres.
I wanted to dye, with Golden Rod , enough yarn for another Unst Shetland shawl in the series designed by Hazel Laurenson and available from Unst Heritage Centre. I also wanted to get a variation of the yellow by using an additive after dyeing and decided to use iron to give a moss green. This would be used for a pattern in the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers book ‘A Legacy of Shetland Lace’.
I decided to dye the supreme in just Golden Rod dye and the cobweb in the Golden Rod and iron. I would dye 50g of each yarn.
I am pleased with both of these sets of dye and both will enable me to knit a fine lace shawl that matches my Harris Tweed skirt.
Now for the next dye extraction. This will be Rosemary and Oregano!
- The cobweb yarn is from a cone of optic white NM 1/14.5 and 33wpi (after dyeing) and the Supreme is NM 1/16 and 60wpi (after dyeing). Both are from Jamieson and Smith, Lerwick, Shetland.
- A Legacy of Shetland Lace, is in my mind an excellent book. The patterns in the book have been donated by members and thus it is Shetland lace designed by Shetland spinners and knitters. Each piece in the book, there are 21, are of varying (and indicated levels of difficulty) and clearly state who is the designer. It is also nice to read about each of the designers and to read their advice in grafting, blocking etc.