Spindrift Crafts   

  Dyeing fibres using locally grown plants

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The colour that comes from the harvest of plant material used in the first dye vat always has an element of surprise! The actual shade will depend on the weather during the growing season, the soil, the water used to create the dye vat.

Once a batch of wool has been dyed in the vat then a second batch can be dyed in the same vat and produce yet another shade. This can be repeated for as long as the vat is still producing colour.


Modifying dye colour.

24 shades from one batch of Onion Skins.

The top skeins of wool in the pictures on right show the colour from a vat of onion skins at a strength of 150% dye material to wool. The gold shade of the lower skeins were dyed in the same vat after the first batch of wool was removed.


Pre mordanting the wool helps the dye colour to be more light fast and often gives a brighter colour. The wool in the above left picture was mordanted with Alum.

The picture on the right shows wool dyed in the same dye vat but has not been mordanted. The colour is still strong but has a lighter shade and potentially may fade in sunlight.

Weballonion Webonion Webstrain Webdyeonion

The dried onion skins are heated in water, after simmering for an hour the liquor is strained to create the dye vat. Then the fibres to be dyed are placed in the vat and heated gently.


Modifiers can be used after the wool has been dyed, The jars show Iron (left) and Copper (right) modifiers. The iron modifier is made using rusty nails in a jar with water and white vinegar, the copper in the same way using a length of copper pipe. The jar is left for about two weeks and the coloured liquid then added in small amounts to dye pans containing some of the dye liquor. The pans need to be kept seperate and the wool rinsed thouroughly after each process.


OnionAlumIW OnionNMI

The skeins here have all been modified by heating in a pan of dye liquor with some iron water added. The amount of modifier used is up to the dyer who will decide the depth of colour change required.

The skeins in the top picture are brighter as they were pre mordanted with Alum before being dyed in the onion skin vat.

The first skein in each picture was dyed in the first batch and the skein below in each picture in the second dye lot.

The skeins can be labelled using abbreviation of how the colour was achieved.

Clockwise from top left; V1 Al+Ir, V1 Nm+Ir, V2 Nm+Ir, V2 Al+Ir. Some dyers use the chemical notation, this is my personal 'code'.

The skeins can be labelled using abbreviation of how the colour was achieved.

Top to bottom;

V1 Al+Ir

V1 Nm+Ir

V2 Nm+Ir

V2 Al+Ir

Some dyers use the chemical notation, this is my personal 'code'.

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