Cochineal: Part 3

I tell you, this pot of dye was like the Energizer Bunny! It just kept going and going and going!

The first batch of wool came out a sort of mauve color. And the bag seemed to have worked!

Darker Fleece

Darker Fleece


Then I popped in a second batch to see if I could get a lighter shade for two-tone purposes. I got a pretty shade of pink, and it almost goes with the mauve. I’ll have to see them again once they’re dry.
Pink Fleece

Pink Fleece

Because the pink color was so light (and it cooked for the full forty minutes!) I was sure it had practically exhausted, and I still had some yarn I wanted to dye. It’s the last of the Daisy fleece, spun into a two ply on the Walking Wheel. Actually, it’s almost the last. I had only plied two of the four skeins before I started dyeing, so in-between switching out yarns I plied for my life . . . but only got three of the four done.

Anyhow, I didn’t want them to turn into an even paler shade of pink, so I did some poking around and found out that you can mess with the color of the dye by adding vinegar. So I did. Look what I got!

Plum Colored

Plum Colored


It was gorgeous, but the intensity of the shade hinted at lots more dye lurking in the depths of the pot. In desperation I grabbed a half skein of lace weight from KnitPicks and dyed it with some more vinegar, which made it a rather pretty cranberry, and has since dried into a lighter, but nice shade.
Cranberry Laceweight

Cranberry Laceweight

And the water was still red. In went some random roving with more vinegar. Out came a . . . I’m not really sure what to call this color.

Romney Mix Roving

Romney Mix Roving

Maybe russet? Cinnamon red? Odd terracotta? Anyway, the water was still red.
Honestly, as much as I liked these colors, I didn’t want my entire fiber stash to turn red. And by then I had been dyeing for about six and half hours. I threw in the last skein of Daisy (which I had plied while running the others through), and decided to call it a day.

3 Responses to Cochineal: Part 3
  1. outandin
    February 18, 2009 | 3:03 pm

    Well, that seems to be a very cost-effective dye if you can get that much stuff dyed with it! And it’s all so pretty! Have you got plans for any of your “extra” dye projects?

  2. Leslie
    February 18, 2009 | 4:27 pm

    Love all of it. Isn’t cochineal great! I think I still have a poind of bugs left from a buy form a LYS that went out of business. You have motivatedme to do some more. Lately I have been doing just madder (to knit into my Liberty or Death Caps that I sell).

    Did you have any issue with the smell?

  3. Rebekah
    February 18, 2009 | 6:42 pm

    Yes, the cochineal was fairly cost effective, for a natural dye. If I remember correctly the two ounces cost me $13.

    The smell wasn’t too bad until I put in the vinegar, then the entire room smelled very strongly of vinegar, which, in moderation, isn’t a bad smell, but this was a “clean your clock” kind of smell. We just opened windows, ran fans, and tried to make the best of it.

    A whole pound of cochineal? Wow. I’m drooling. It’s amazing how fast any negative aspects of natural dyeing quickly wear off . . .

    No, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing with the extras. The cranberry skein will be for my sister, but other than that it’s all up in the air.

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