March Phat Fiber “Fluff” – The Elements

A photo of March's Phat Fiber Fluff box
My first ever Phat Fiber box!

My father used to tell this great story about sawing off the treadle of my grandmother’s spinning wheel as retribution for her not letting he and my uncle go out to hunt. In the end, they climbed out the window and went anyway, and I can only imagine my grandfather’s reaction when he learned what the boys had done. Personally, if it were my wheel, I think Dad would have had to worry more about my wrath than Grampy’s, but who knows.

Those of you who have been coming here to read all about gardening are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about. I admit it: I’m taking a break from gardening posts to talk about another (relatively new) hobby of mine–spinning. Read more

More on natural wool dyes

PICT5486I’ve been experimenting with home-made dyes for several years now whether it was dying play silks with Kool-Aid, looking for natural dyes for wool, dyes for home-made zero waste wrapping paper, or dying easter eggs.

This week, I dyed some wool roving with saffron and berries and the results were nice enough that I wanted to share!

Saffron Dye
Saffron makes perhaps the most vibrant natural wool dye of any of the ones I’ve experimented with, and one that seems to stay bright through multiple washings. I’ve dyed both play silks and wool with this dye, and you can bet we’ll be doing some yellow Easter Eggs this spring!

1 T saffron threads
1 c white vinegar
2 Q water
1 ounce wool roving

PICT5482
Bring the water to a boil and add the saffron threads. I think the *ideal* next step would be to steep the dye for about an hour, then strain and reheat to a boil. As you might be able to tell from the tiny saffron threads still stuck to my wool, I did the slightly less ideal strain-with-a-spoon-because-you’re-in-a-hurry method. Live & learn.

Add the white vinegar, stir, and turn to low. Run your wool under hot water until it is evenly wet and then add to the pot and let it simmer for an hour. At this point, remove from heat and let it sit for up to 12 hours or until desired color depth is achieved (I did the wool pictured above overnight). Gently remove the wool and submerge in cool water until the water is clear. Let as much water as possible drain from the wool and either place in a lingerie bag and hand spin (outside) to dry, or lay it in a sunny location until dry. Do not wring the wool out, because it may start to felt if you do!

Berry Dye

I have dyed eggs and play silks with straight blueberries and have found the resulting color rather blue-gray. Wanting something a bit more purple, I added some raspberries to this mix. As you can see from comparing the picture of the finished wool up top to the picture of the dye bath below, the wool did NOT maintain the brilliant violet red color of the dye and is more of a muted purple. I’m still happy with it, but will be looking for dyes to get a more vibrant red color.

Notes: Beets would work in place of raspberries, and I used frozen berries for this batch, but fresh would also work.

1 c blueberries
1/2 c raspberries
1 cup vinegar
2 Q water
1 ounce wool roving

PICT5479Bring water to a boil and add the berries. Mash them up as they cook so that as much juice as possible comes out into the water. Remove from heat and, when cool enough to work with, strain, crushing the berries in the strainer to get the remaining juice out. Return water to a boil and add vinegar. Turn to low. Run your wool under hot water until it is evenly wet and then add to the pot and let it simmer for an hour. At this point, remove from heat and let it sit for up to 12 hours or until desired color depth is achieved (I did the wool pictured above overnight). Gently remove the wool and submerge in cool water until the water is clear. Let as much water as possible drain from the wool and either place in a lingerie bag and hand spin (outside) to dry, or lay it in a sunny location until dry. Do not wring the wool out, because it may start to felt if you do!

Links to other articles/posts on home-made dyes: