Friday, October 30, 2009


Well, I have come to the end of this round of dyeing with one last fling. A fruit fling, no less. I decided that my Big Bin o' Natural Dye Yarn needed some pink, so after poking through my books, I decided to try raspberries.

Now, I know that there are other tried-and-true methods of getting pink: cochineal and brazilwood. I worked with cochineal this Summer and it does give pink, but what I got was a more mauve-y/lavender-y pink. Brazilwood apparently gives a truer pink, but it has become very hard to get. As much as I'd like to try it, I am a bit nervous at the thought of using it and contributing to the loss of trees. I don't know if it has been overharvested or if it has become collateral damage from rainforest deforestation, but without more research into ecological correctness the matter, I am hanging back. Dharma Trading Company has none for sale and I count that as a dubious sign.

One of my dyeing books, however, has an easy recipe for dyeing with blackberries. That got me thinking about using other berries, such as raspberries. I had one skein of Lamb's Pride left from last weekend that was ready to dye (I mordanted it with alum), so I figured why not try raspberries?

I bought two packages of frozen berries from Safeway. I got the organic kind mostly because the berries were frozen without sugar or any other additives. I dumped both packages in warm water and mushed them up with my hands as they thawed out to crush them. I then simmered for a hour or so, and steeped for an additional hour. I strained and crushed the remains. I added the yarn and simmered for about an hour and a half. I then let it sit another hour. When I checked, it seemed the right shade, so I took it out--no overnight this time. This is what resulted:

Raspberry yarn:

This skein was rinsed until the water was clear. I added a little soap in the first rinse to make sure it was really clear. PINK!

The raspberries were a bit spendy, so I got a skein of Cascade Eco Wool and with exhaust dye it this weekend and try and really get my money's worth from the dyepot. I also like that pink color, so that last rationalization is my story and I am sticking to it!

This experiment has got me thinking about next season. My mom has two plum trees--a Satsuma and a Santa Rosa--and both give very red juice. She usually has more plums than she knows what to do with, so I will likely try plums as a dyestuff, if I can time a trip right.

This will likely be my last dye batch for a couple weeks at least. I am starting to think up projects for this yarn and I need to get my dyebook started to keep track of what I've done before I forget any more than I already have. The weather is turning here, and now the season for cozy fires, good books, fun movies and handwork projects is almost here. Time to knit what was dyed!


Anonymous said...

WOW. Looks like you have been dyeing alot . I need to get my butt in gear.

Rowena said...

I really enjoyed this. Wish you could have come with me to weavers and spinners at Greenbank Farm. Looks like you did a fine job.
Love R

velmalikevelvet said...

thanks for visiting the blog so reg'lar, & commenting. today's goodkarma chant really did the trick!

I wish you'd put your email addy somewhere I could find, though, so I could reply to your comments directly!

best, v