Last week when I dyed with fusticwood, there wasn't a good story to tell about it. When I dyed with beets, there was humor, conflict, and a surprise ending. This time, I got what I expected to get, and it wasn't too hard. Perhaps it's not as interesting of a blog post, but it was a very nice dyeing experience!
After having unexciting results dyeing with blackberries, I decided to use fusticwood chips instead. I bought it from a natural dye site, and they predicted that orangey, golden yellow that I do so love. I got the 1 pound bag, and I dyed about 14 ounces of yarn with it. I think I could have dyed more things with this amount of dyestuff, but this is about all I had!
To start out, I covered the fusticwood chips with water and soaked them overnight. Here they are dry.
The next day, I added extra ties to the yarn I wanted dyed so they wouldn't get too tangled. This is six skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery's Green Mountain Green, and I also thew in half a skein of Dale Baby Ull in white.
I mordanted the yarn in cream of tartar and alum, which can be found in the spice section of a grocery store. Actually, my local grocery stores did not have it, but the big supermarket a little further away had a plentiful supply.
The directions that came with my dye recommended alum in the amount of 1/4 the weight of the yarn. It also gave a handy conversion to teaspoons, which I started to use, and then I realized that I needed the two entire 1.9 oz containers.
I let the yarn simmer in the alum for an hour, and at the same time I began boiling the fusticwood chips in their water.
After about 30 minutes, I poured some of the water off the fusticwood pot in to a second container and added fresh water to soak up the dye. Once an hour had passed, I drained some of the mordant water and added all of the dye water to the yarn pot. I also poured the chips into a colander to get as much dye water as possible. As you can see, the mixture was pretty dark, and it stuck to the yarn immediately.
I let this simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring it occasionally. I then poured off all of the water and let it cool for a little while. (Warning! If you pour out the water in your tub, the dye bath with turn every bit of soap scum/tub gunk yellow. You will feel scared that you ruined your tub and also like a very bad housekeeper. Fortunately, this dye washes off fairly easily, and then you also have a clean tub.)
I wish that I had used some kind of cloth inside my colander when I drained the wood chips. It would have let less dye in the pot, but it would have caught more of the tiny wood particles that made their way onto the yarn. Once they're dry, they come off easily, so I had a few sawdust-like flakes floating around when I wound my yarn and when I knit with it.
The color is, as predicted, a perfect, orangey golden yellow. I love it! I think one reason I knit Amelia so fast is because this yarn was resting in plain sight of my knitting chair, calling out to be knitted. I've already started a cardiganized version of Owls.