In my October blog post, I wrote about getting ready to start an online Natural Dye course through Maiwa. https://maiwa.com/. The photo of materials hanging on my clothesline was the first step of scouring and mordanting the fabrics that I was going to use.
Most of the dyes we used came right out of the jar, all ready for the dye pot. However, we did learn to make an extract from the cochineal bugs.
First you have to crush the little guys using either a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. I had given my coffee grinder away several years ago so I had to do it manually.
Then you add 1 ½”water to them and boil them for a minute, drain off the water into a glass jar, put the bugs back into the pan and repeat that process 5 or 6 times until the water turns pink. Then the water that was drained off goes into your dye pot.
Here is the cochineal dye pot with my white and grey colored wool yarns. At this point each skein is about 34 grams each.
After being dyed in the cochineal pot, we then divided each skein into 3rds so we could shift the color on 2 of the yarns. In this photo the grey yarn is on the right and the white yarn is on the left.
The top yarn in this photo is after the yarn was shifted with indigo, the middle is straight out of the cochineal dye bath and the bottom yarn is after it was shifted with iron. Grey yarn on the left, white yarn on the right. Aren’t they just yummy colors??
This next photo shows the results after dyeing with Marigold. More yummy colors. Same layout, indigo shift, straight Marigold bath, then the iron shift. Grey yarn on the left, white yarn on the right.
And these are from the banana indigo vat that Maiwa taught us to make. Maiwa teaches an in-depth Indigo course that I might be tempted to take one day in the future because the banana vat kind of stumped me. It was very hard to keep it balanced. Sometimes I would see the magic happen and sometimes it was a struggle to get there. It’s all quite scientific and chemistry was never my thing!
These yarns had two indigo dips. White yarn on top and grey on the bottom.
After over 50 hours or more of fairly constant stirring of the pot, one hour for each bath, I came away with some wonderful fabrics that I’ll be able to use for my stitching or my art quilts.
The following are laid out with the Indigo shift on top, original color in the middle and iron shift on the bottom.
Linen (brown and white linen)
More silk (just cuz it’s so pretty!)
I saved most of the exhaust baths and made these scrumptious pieces…and then I dipped them all into a weakened indigo vat for about 2 or 3 minutes. You can see the shifted fabrics hanging out of some of these on the right edge (1-2 inches peaking out). Subtle changes. But oh so many colors!
It was an amazing journey. I didn’t know that there are so many ways to shift the colors, whether you use over dyes, indigo, iron, different tannins and mordants. It’s endless and so much fun. But a lot of stirring…I did manage to get quite a bit of reading done while I stirred!
Once I finished the Maiwa course, I switched to Procion dyes so I could make some color gradations for my Gail Harker Level 3 Stitch color schemes. Quite a difference from the subtle natural colors! Lovely as well, though, in a different way.
Hope you’ve enjoyed all the color! Now I need to get busy and make something out of all these samples!
Best wishes to all of you and may 2023 be a wonderful year for you! Happy creating!