and you say it's only available in Atlantic Canada? Pity Ma'am...
The next colourful substance in my series on Natural Dying is Black Tea.
I had some older Red Rose teabags in the back of the Cupboard (since I prefer Earl Grey, the plain stuff seems to sit for quite a while) so I decided to grab some more wool, and give it a try.
For my dye bath I took a stainless steel pot (the same one I use to brew my tea for homemade Iced Tea actually... but thats another story) and added 2 cups of boiling water to 5 regular sized tea bags. Keeping the temperature hovering around boiling, I left the bags to steep for about an hour. Resulting liquid - very dark brown tea.
For the wool - I used some polwarth top I had laying around... I had bought a pound of the stuff, and then played with a bunch of it and then forgot about it. Well, time to enjoy it again!
I soaked the wool in lukewarm water for about 1 hour (while the tea steeped) and added in some lemon juice. I don't know if tea needs acidity to dye or not, but I figured that since I had a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, it really couldn't hurt anything could it? For this experiment I did not mordant the wool... mostly since I did not have anything mordant-able in the house.
I laid out the wool in a single layer in a glass pyrex baking dish, after squeezing out most of the water first. Then I carefully poured the now cooled extra strong tea over the wool. My goal was a semi solid dye, so I added the dye in a blotchy pattern and then swirled the dish to distribute. Then I covered the dish with plastic wrap and chucked the whole thing in the microwave and nuked on high for 2 minutes. I followed the same method as my last dyeing attempt - cycles of 2 minutes cooking, 2 minutes resting, and of course waiting for a longer interval when it looked like the water around the wool was boiling. I continued in this manner for several cycles, and unfortunately lost count after 5. Basically I kept the wool hot enough to almost boil for around an hour.
Then I left the wool to soak in the dye overnight. (it was bedtime, so I hit the pillow instead!)
The next day after work (soaking approximately 20 hours or so) I removed the wool from the dye solution and rinsed carefully in cool water in the sink. After 3-4 rinses the wool no longer released dye when squeezed. Of course all the rinsing and swishing were done carefully so as to avoid felting, though since this was all done at a cool temperature, I wasn't really all that worried :)
Next, the soggy wool was drained, squeezed out and rolled in an old towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. I learned my lesson last time: if you don't *really* try and get out as much liquid as you can... the Wool takes like THREE whole days to dry. This means you won't be able to play with it for three days. totally uncool!. This time the wool dried on the mesh sweater dryer in a day. Much much faster. Point for me! (wool 0 ; Jobo 1)
The colour? kind of a brownish caramel gold. My technique of pouring and swirling (very technical huh?) resulted in a varied semi-solid colouring, which looks like it will have a nice depth when spun up. I am actually thinking of blending this with some other wool I dyed... which I'm sure will be another blogging project at some point.
The finished braid (set against a nice blue faux suede pillow off my couch!) is a warm comfy beige colour. I think I would wear a sweater in that colour, since it would probably be complimentary next to my freckles!
Another view of the Braid showing some more dark/light sections of the wool