Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hand Dying with Black Walnut Ink

Remember the quill and ink project? Well, we had some (quarts of) leftover black walnut ink, so I used it for another quick project:

I hand dyed some hand spun yarn.

I spun this yarn a couple of years ago and it sat undyed in a basket for two reasons:
a) I was scared of dying yarn
b) It's really, really not very well spun. There's a serious learning curve to spinning. This is only about my third attempt.

I learned that dying isn't really hard at all, doesn't take as much time as I was expecting, and that the satisfaction of having 130 grams of hand spun, hand dyed yarn is worth the effort.

The process was simple: I tied the skeins here and there with scrap yarn and dampened them, then put them in the room temp ink/dye in a large pot, and heated it to nearly boiling. Then I turned off the heat and let it sit overnight, using a wooden spoon to occasionally move it around gently and press on it to get the dye to saturate well. In the morning I rinsed until the water ran clear, then hung them to dry.

I'm thinking I'll knit up a shawl of some kind with it, something to embrace the imperfections (and there are a lot of them!) of my first fingering weight hand spun yarn. I'll let you know what I come up with... might be awhile before there's time for that. :o)

*Note: black walnut ink also works beautifully as a wood stain. I stained the borders of a little Christmas plaque I made, and it has a really beautiful color to it. This stuff is awesome, I tell ya. Sure wish black walnuts grew wild where we live... guess we'll have to go back to Missouri sometime to get more!

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