Monday, October 26, 2009

Double Double, Toil and Trouble

Well, really, no trouble, but certainly a boiling cauldron!

Our story so far:

Rabbit has a problem; she can't quit dyeing yarn. She clips backyard plants and boils them up and steeps yarn and weird things happen...

As I posted earlier, my latest dyeing experiment was made using Abutilon blossoms. That's 'flowering maple' to those out there who don't live and breathe by their 'Sunset Western Garden Book' or some similar plant geek reference guide. As the child of an extended family of truly certifiable plant geeks, we tend to bandy Latin genus and species names with reckless abandon. But I digress.

My flowering maple shrubs (there are two) are pale orange and very pretty. Fortunately for me, they are still blooming profusely in this late October--pretty much the only flowering plant with any oomph left this year. (Even the white clematis has mostly pooped out, unlike last year)Abutilon blooms are very graceful, frilly bell-like blossoms:

Flowering maple blossoms:

Much as I like seeing a shrub full of blooms, the potential for a dyeing experiment is too tempting, so I took all the open blooms. There are also quite a few buds, so there should be a new crop of blossoms in a few days. My harvest yielded about 1/3 of a potful:

Pot of blossoms:

I filled the pot to about 2/3 full with tap water and brought to a boil. I then simmered the blooms about an hour and let them steep another full hour. The final blooms yielded a pale peachy colored tea and looked drained of pigment. As a note to others, they also became somewhat unpleasantly slimy, so I didn't really squeeze them out much.

Anemic abutilon post-steeping:

I was, frankly, expecting a pale tan-yellow, so imaging my surprise when I dropped my alum mordanted skein of yarn in and got this:

Purple? Yes, VERY purple. The yarn is good old Lamb's Pride--a full 4 oz. skein. I simmered and hour and kept checking. The yarn was taking color, but not A bright, light artichoke green. I let the skein sit in the dyepot overnight and today, I rinsed it and got what you see in the picture. Well, much like the previous Mexican marigold dyepot, this didn't turn out as I expected, but I like it!

A very un-brown green!

As usual, you can't tell what you'll get from the dyepot until the fiber is done. Stayed tuned for more dye-jinks!!

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