Tag Archive: natural dyeing

Socks and Fluff

I have one whole sock now. It’s quite comfy, but a little baggy around the toes. It’s quite possible that I knit it a size too large. And the second sock is visible. I’m about an inch into it.


All the indigo dyed fiber is carded up and turned into roving.

Hobo Toes

Look! Look at that. I almost have the entire foot covered in stripy material. Whoo-hoo!


I took it along to work, and the best part was a small friend’s conversation with me while babysitting.

Sam: “Why does that have so many needles?”
Me: “That’s just the way they need to be to help me knit this sock.”
Sam: “Whoa, that’s a sock?”
Me: “Yes. Wait just a minute
(the row needed to be finished) and I’ll show you.”
*time lapse while row is finished and sock wriggled on*
Sam: “Whoaaaaa, that’s cool. If I’d known you made socks I’d have had a pair by now.”

(I don’t know what he was implying by that statement. Just because I made that red scarf for him earlier.)

Anyway, it’s currently giving a great impression of a hobo’s sock, and if I can just figure out where the pattern went I can finish it up and knit the second one. It’s been long enough since I started the first one that I’m not worried about the second being the same old same old. Definitely a bonus.

Indigo Dyed Yarn

Prepare to feast your eyes on the myriad of blue shades I got out of the indigo pot. Gorgeous!

DSC01816 This is the skein of heavy worsted I spun on the drop spindle. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, which is unfortunate because I love the color. I dunked it in the dye only once, so it’s relatively light in color and actually has a little variegation going on.

So far the indigo doesn’t appear to be crocking. Hooray hooray. Dye leaks are something that occurred with dismal regularity during the cochineal dyeing. Which reminds me, yet another reason to like indigo dyeing is that it doesn’t smell bad like cochineal. It does have a strongish smell, but nothing like dead beetles with vinegar in them. (How’s that for ruining your yarn appetite? )

DSC01818 Here is another skein that I dunked three or four times. I think three. It’s one of the three Iowa fleece skeins I spun on the Walking Wheel.

Rhapsody in Blue

So, I finally broke down and did it. I couldn’t stand waiting any longer. It kept calling and calling. I had to give it a try.

Allow me to introduce to you, indigo.


What you see before you is real. And very, very blue.

The recipe I was given at the Handspinner’s Guild worked wonderfully after a minor delay. Something wasn’t happening as fast as I thought it would, so I did a little research and found out that you’re supposed to leave the lid on to speed things up in the preheat. I’ll have to do some digging to find out if I can legally share that recipe with you. It’s great.

Cochineal: The Finale

It had to end sometime. It eventually became a question of what would exhaust first. The dye pot or me. But, after a long day of dyeing, I had this lovely assortment of reds. (Plus the two batches of fleece.) All from two ounces of cochineal, some alum, cream of tartar, and vinegar.

The Final Assortment

The Final Assortment

I’d say it was almost worth all the effort.

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.

Cochineal: Part 2

The Continuing Saga.

Everything was going well. The yarn was in, it had already turned pinkish, then I decided to give it a gentle stir to make sure it was getting evenly soaked. Up comes a section of yarn mingled with beetle parts! There was nothing for it but to keep going and plan on rinsing and picking them out later. Ugh. But, on a brighter note, after a good forty minutes of simmering—possibly an hour, I don’t remember exactly—look what came out of the pot!

Red Red Red

Red Red Red

A little pinker than I’d imagined, but still pretty. It’s hard to keep in mind that this is only the first step. I still have to crochet the sweater! And, interestingly, the color isn’t quite even. I must have not mordanted it properly, or maybe some beetles got stuck in it.

Cochineal: Part 1

I was all set to wake up early, crush the beetles, put them to soak, drain the mordanted fiber, rinse it, and generally get things ready before breakfast. When I woke up about eight, the room was rather dark and there was the drip drip of rain outside.

Off to a rip-snorting start.

So, after some thought and trying to decide whether I really wanted to do this, I plunged ahead. (Now, you have to understand, I literally had a bad dream about doing this a couple nights ago, and a wonderful sinus infection to deal with.)

I started with the cochineal. You can either use them whole, grind them up, crush them slightly, or convert them into powder.

A Guild to Enjoy

Saturday afternoon my sister and I went to a handspinning guild and had one of the funnest times of my spinning life. There were quite a few ladies (and gentlemen!), and there must have been at least ten wheels. For the first part of the meeting we all just hung out and spun! I’m so glad I brought one of my drop spindles, otherwise it would have been rather boring. No, I take that back. I would probably have been able to step outside my comfort zone and go ask the ladies to show me how to do stuff.