A bag of wild berries they had picked with the thought that I could use for dying yarn.
I had honestly never really considered dying yarn with wild berries. It seemed like a very tedious and messy idea to me. However, after being presented with such a gift from my nieces I figured I had better give it a shot.
I did a bit of online research, and the information available for using berries as dye was a bit sketchy, and described a fairly lengthy process, including days of soaking the berries to make a liquor before preparing a dye bath. I didn't want to spend that sort of time on it. So, I improvised:
First I mashed the berries, then I put them in my dye pot, added water, and boiled them for about 1/2 hour.
When I felt as if I had drawn out enough of the colour I strained away all of the berry pulp. You can see that I was correct in believing this would be a messy venture.
The strained liquid went back into the dye pot with some vinegar. There is probably a better mordant for dying with berries, but I don't know what it is, so I stuck with what I know.
My natural coloured wool went into the dye bath, and simmered for about 40 minutes. I have to say that for the first 10-20 minutes I didn't really believe that anything attractive would come out of this dye bath.
In the end, I really did get a very pretty yarn in a vivid pink colour. I do find myself wondering what sort of rich purple I may have gotten if I had pre-soaked the berries, and allowed the wool to soak longer (I did this all in about 2 hours). However, I think I am done with the berry dying for 2008.
In the knitting world I have discovered that a simple project worked in the round is a great way to keep myself from fidgiting while doing my homework, and helps me get more reading done in a single sitting. Becuase of this, I do have a new project that I will be sharing soon.