I already have two lace pairs of socks on the go so a mindless, quick knit is perfect at the moment. Besides, I want to knit these quickly so I can justify trying out natural dyeing with different materials ;-)
|Cream sock yarn in the alum mordant solution|
|Inside of the birch bark|
|Outside of the birch bark|
I wetted out the yarn for about 15 - 20 minutes by soaking it in cold water with just a touch of washing up liquid, then used 10% of the yarn weight of alum and simmered the yarn for an hour. I left it to cool in the liquid overweight.
The next day I cut the bark into small pieces - hard work on the hands! The book said to simmer it for at least an hour but the colour was still deepening after that time so I let it carry on and altogether it simmered away for two and a half hours with a handful of onion skins being thrown in for the last hour. The water was a really lovely warm chestnut colour by that time.
|Birch bark cut into small pieces ready for dyeing|
I was hoping for a self-striping sock yarn to decided to dip the yarn skein in thirds - the first third to go in at the start plus 15 minutes of simmering time, then the next third for 15 minutes followed by the last for another 15 minutes. What I found was that the majority of the dye attached to the first third of the yarn so I ended up giving the second third about 20 minutes and the last third got a good 30 minutes or so. Altogether it had about an hour.
|First third in the dye pot|
I was surprised how little dye came out when I rinsed the finished yarn - hardly anything at all :-) Drying it was a challenge because I was just so impatient to cast on and see how the pattern knitted up, lol. After drying it for a while on the radiator, I bagged it into a pillowcase and tumble dried it (the label says it's tumble dryable). I'm not sure whether it was the tumble drying or if (I suspect) I agitated it too much in the pot but it was pretty knotty! I spent the next 3 or so hours in various stress positions persuading it back into two balls o.O Got there in the end though!
|Finshed yarn being rinsed (under a harsh yellow light)|
|Finished yarn in daylight - love the colours!|