Its uncommonly hard to dye cellulose fibres. Linen and hemp fibres are very resistent to taking on colour. It must come from being part of the outer layer of the plant.
My best friend in Vancouver has an idea for twine hemp yarn. And bless his heart, of course he thinks I can dye up what he needs. All natural dyeing for hemp. I can’t use a mordant to set the dyes, because they are metals, and don’t fit with our sticking with non toxic, and preferably edible dyes. Uh sure! Well, it turns out, its not a huge list of things to try out.
With the chemical reactive dyes, I can get every colour under the sun to come out. The process alters the fibres chemically in adding colour. Wonderfully direct method. No matter how tempting, do not do this dyeing indoors. Its pretty nasty! I’ve already asked for a full face breathing mask for Xmas. I’m so tired of my goggles fogging up from the mask I use when I’m dyeing outdoors.
The hemp yarn just shrugs when I try out natural dyes as an alternative. Black tea, nothing. Red berries, nothing. But then I also didn’t expect too much when I didn’t find red berries suggested in the books. I did find some things that managed to stain the yarn. If I could use more ingredients (salt and sodium carbonate) I could probably set the colours into the hemp yarn. But that will have to wait for a different commission, or experiment.
For now this is the first dyed yarn I have produced from completely natural ingredients.
The yellow comes from turmeric, the brown from black berries, and the grey/purple, from red cabbage. There are two more skeins of twine I’m working on. One hot dyed with the cabbage juice, and one cold dyed. They will both get further dyeing with turmeric to see what colour combinations come out. No more blackberries until Thursday. I still have rhubarb root, onion skins, avocado and goldenrod left to try.
And then my friend will take his samples of naturally dyed yarn, enrobe it in beeswax and burn it. Yep, burn it!