Solar Dyeing Project, Part 2!

june 2013 019

from left to right: tumeric on wool, hibiscus tea on wool, onion skins on cotton, turmeric on cotton, black tea on cotton/linen, paprika on cotton/linen, black currant tea on merino/linen, onion skins on merino/linen.

Back in May, Chloe (shop alternate and friend) installed a solar dyeing project, and jars filled with dyestuff, mordant, water, and yarn have occupied the front window for the past five weeks. This past week, she opened the jars!


One thing we were a little worried about was mould – and indeed there *was* a little bit of funky green stuff floating at the top of the jars, but it seemed to be most noticeable in jars that hadn’t been filled quite to the top. Also, while many solar dyeing websites warn about the foul smells of the newly opened jars, Chloe said that they mostly just smelled like whatever they were to begin with – the onion skin dye smells like onions, the tea-based dyes smelled like tea.

Because the front window has Eastern exposure, and we’ve had a fair share of cloudy mornings in the last month, Chloe gave them an extra dose of heat to set the dyes, just in case…


In the oven! Open jars were placed in a cold oven and brought up to 175F for about twenty minutes. She then let the jars and oven cool together (mason jars are oven safe, but they *can* shatter if exposed to rapid changes in temperature). Chloe checked the yarn before this final heat setting, and she said the extra twenty minutes didn’t seem to make a significant difference.


Then it was time for the big rinse! The dyestuff was rinsed out of each yarn very thoroughly, and they were then allowed to soak with some wool wash.



And then there was yarn!


The brightness and intensity of the colours vary widely, but all achieved the main goal of this experiment: all of the yarn changed colour. None was left anywhere close to white. . The Black Currant and Hibiscus teas, which looked very purple in the jars, came out as soft purpley silver (one has a bit of green in it as well). The Onion skin dye is a warm yellow-tan, and is the most variegated, with the parts of the skeins in closest contact with the skins absorbing more dye than the more distant sections.  The paprika dye produced a soft orange-tone, and the black tea a muted brown. The tumeric produced a brilliant yellow, by far the brightest, but because tumeric dye is extremely light-sensitive, it’s already begun to fade while hanging outside. But the skeins look so lovely hanging in the doorway! I think I’ll leave them up for a while yet…

A big thanks to Chloe for initiating and executing this project!

Chloe, in her awesome self-designed grellow sweater

Chloe, in her awesome self-designed grellow sweater

  • Marie-Josée
    Posted at 11:47h, 25 June Reply

    I love wool dyeing, although I haven’t tried it yet! Such an amazing (and suprising) process! It’s on my to-do list!

  • shejustaintright
    Posted at 14:17h, 25 June Reply

    Beautiful! I found the same thing with grape skins – very purple-y in the bath, but more silvery-grey when done.

  • Lori
    Posted at 07:44h, 26 June Reply

    Is it a coincidence that the majority of the yarn turned out different shades of yellow and Bridget’s favourite colour is yellow, I think not :). I’m excited to see what Bridget or Chloe will do create with the different yarn.

  • Lisa Noble
    Posted at 09:26h, 26 June Reply

    hmmm…I too, noticed the grellow theme. coincidence…I think not! 🙂

  • Mickey
    Posted at 18:11h, 26 June Reply

    Way to go, Bridget and Chloe – this was a very cool project. Love the way the yarn looks hanging outside.

  • Becky Fife
    Posted at 06:53h, 06 July Reply

    The yarn looks to neat, Bridget. I haven’t shown the kids yet but I will.

    Oh, and I think the seagull on the jar cozy is adorable. And I want one! Maybe that would be a good first-knit project? J Never mind, I’ll just crochet one (I did a tonne of beer bottle cozies 2 Christmases ago). I still have the yarn for that darn Stephen West toque in my drawer… I’m totally sick of this afghan!!

    Anyway, Have a great weekend!



Post A Comment