Solar Dyeing

Anna has been very busy this year with solar dyeing and has kindly written a piece for this site. I am sure you will all be very impressed and I am so keen to give this a try when the sun returns again!

Solar dyeing experiments – Anna Morgan

I set up 6 solar dye jars back in April which have been cooking gently on a shelf in the greenhouse for 3 months.

I used cochineal beetles for dark pink, madder and dandelion flowers for orange, onion skins for golden yellow, dandelion flowers (my lawn supplies masses of dandelions!) for a paler yellow, copper pipe and vinegar for a blue-green and logwood for purple.

I soaked the fibres in alum solution overnight before adding to the jars and dyestuffs. The jars were topped up to the top with more alum solution (I used roughly 5g of alum per 100g of fibre). Each jar had between 100-150g of fibres. I used silk noil, silk caps, angora (as in goat) fibre as well as some BFL fleece.

When I remembered, the jars were gently swirled and stirred to aid mixing of the dye colours – that is to say every 2-3 weeks or so.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting such wonderful colours from the process but the results exceeded my expectations. 

Cooking in the Greenhouse

I learnt that 3 month old fermented dandelion flowers really smell! I also learnt to use small net bags to hold small dyestuffs – cochineal beetles, logwood and madder in particular are tedious to pick out of the fibre when washing and rinsing the harvested fibres.

The pots are back on the shelf in the greenhouse with more fibre for a second batch – I can’t wait to see what colours are produced next time!

These are the stunning results

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