Kim's Blog

Preparing Silk, nature dyeing

We have had an early spring here in Vancouver. This means it is time to get busy and mordant some yarn, hankies and fibre to have them ready as the plants come into season. Here are two dyeing hints that may prove helpful to anyone new to nature dyeing.

Shibori tape tied through the skein's centre and around silk hankies.

Shibori tape tied through the skein’s centre and around silk hankies.

1.  Shibori Tape is a very handy thing to have on hand in your dye studio. When I first started dyeing, as well as tying the skein with figure 8’s, I used old cotton shoe laces to tie two loops through the middle of the skein to mark its centre. Then I found Shibori Tape. I cut off the length I need, strip it down into narrower widths and tie two loops of the Shibori tape through the skein to mark the its centre. I switched to Shibori tape because: it does not absorb the dye; it is easy to find in the mordant or dye bath when I want to give the skein a swish or lift it from the bath; and it can be rinsed and reused.

 

 

 

2.  Potassium Aluminium Sulfate Mordant (alum) and cream of tartar (ctt) mordant procedure:  Many instructions simply tell you to dissolve the alum and the ctt in very hot water before adding them to the mordant bath.   I dissolve the alum first in a jar containing really hot water; boiled water that has sat for just a minute or two. Then with the alum well-dissolved I add the ctt and stir until it too is well dissolved. The milky solution shows you what a mordant bath looks like if you add the alum and ctt together or if you add the ctt before the alum is dissolved.  The nice clear solution is what your mordant bath will look like when you add the ctt after the alum is completely dissolved.  Remember you need the alum and ctt in solution for them to bond with your fibre.  Enjoy!

Alum and ctt added one right after the other; before the alum has had a chance to dissolve.

Alum and ctt added one right after the other; before the alum has had a chance to dissolve.

Alum added first and dissolved completely before the ctt is added.

Alum added first and dissolved completely before the ctt is added.

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