05 April 2013

Mordant Wonders

A few weeks ago we had some storms which resulted in many fallen branches... and yes, you guessed right, this branch followed me home ;-)
This is a different species to the one I used before, although I haven't confirmed what it is yet as the identification of eucalyptus is proving to be a real challenge - that's another issue entirely, one I would like to learn more about but don't have the time right now. But even I can tell the differences: the leaves are of a slightly darker shade with a bluish tint, also the bark of the tree was rough and dark rather than brown and stringy like the last time, etc. However when I fed this information to Google it turned up a dozen possibilities, I'm just not skilled enough to pick this out from thousands of varieties of eucalyptus. So for now all I need to know is that it came from a tree in the park near the train station.

Anyway my initial attempt at dyeing a white skein pre-mordanted with alum returned a dark beige, not very exciting. Then I remembered from reading Spinning Around that you can change the colour by using different mordant and there were recipes in the book for making different "mordant teas"...  these are not real teas of course but a way of acquiring mordant without the use of chemicals. So I made a "iron tea" by soaking some metal hairpins in white vinegar, then I added the "iron tea" to the dye bath and added the beige skein, not knowing what to expect. Imagine then my surprise when I lifted the skein after simmering, a cool olive green, how's that for a change!
I was encouraged by the result, and as the dye bath was not exhausted I looked for something else to dye. There were a couple of balls fingering wool yarn in my stash that I was not crazy about, so they became the next experiment. The photos below are before and after:
The before colourway reminds me of German flag for some reason, not that I have anything against Germany, I mean I love sauerkraut! I'm just not too keen on these colours in one ball/skein, the afterwards muted tones are much more appealing to me :)

I am going to suspend any project that is intricate for a while, as I just started working on a trial which is likely to run for the next three weeks or longer, the demand on those little grey cells in the courtroom is a bit taxing on the old brain that I find it hard to concentrate when I get home. So for the time being I'm favouring mindless activities, like spinning...
This was an experiment with a merino/sparkly blend, I think the sparkly might be angelina but can't be certain. It came out rather well, n'est-ce pas? :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!


  1. I love your dyeing forays this week - that olive drab result from the eucalyptus is fantastic, as is your overdyed skein. I would use that overdyed yarn in a heartbeat.

    The spinning is great. I do love the sparklies. :) What's the trial all about?

  2. I love how the overdyed yarn changed. I prefer the subtle color too. I haven't tried natural dyes. Maybe as Spring begins, the kids and I can talk some walks in our back woods and gather for experiments.

  3. Really enjoy reading about your adventures in natural dying, something I've never tried. Like Ms. Wonder Why, this maybe something I should think about trying.

  4. I am loving your dye projects! IL really like how the fingering came out, very subtle and soothing. Love, love, love!!! the spinning. What a gorgeous color. Good luck with your trial, hope you are able to get through it with brain cells remaining. LOL

  5. ohhhhhh. loving that sparkly spinning!!!

  6. Your spun yarn is great! I like both of the revised dye jobs as well.

  7. The overdyed yarn is beautiful. I was looking at your older posts and I am in love with the yarn you dyed with black beans. I've got some black beans in my pantry *plot begins to form*. And I am very impressed with your hand spun yarn. I'm a very very newbie drop spinner. I'm spinning...something. I'm not quite certain what it is. It isn't yarn. But it is something lol. I love what you've created.

  8. You got something new and fun every week! Yeah, can you talk about the trial here? It's not like the judge is going to read your fiber blog (would be fun if they do :-)). Funny you say spinning is mindless, when I tried I felt like I needed five hands! The sparkly yarn is lovely, I didn't know you could spin sparkles in handspun.

  9. These are great. I'm excited for the spring also to get back into natural dyeing. I started VERY late in the fall and well... that was that. I think it's so cool how a little mordant can change everything.