Hand dyed yarn – Volcano Blue

From one thing sometimes comes the next.

Do I need to say I’m passionate about knitting? Okay, thought so …

However, there’s that one thing I keep feeling frustrated about and that’s the limited choice of hand dyed yarns in Belgium.
Some Belgian LYS have them of course but usually only in small amounts and never mind the colors.
I’ve learned to become “flexible” though on colorways because there’s a big chance I won’t find what I was looking for in the first place.
But sometimes I don’t want to be “flexible” and I’ll probably end up ordering outside Belgium after all.
Mainly in Germany and France and I’ll be paying too much on transportation costs, as usual.

I always have some bad feeling about this.

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There’re only a few brick and mortar LYS left in Belgium and they seem to have a hard time.
Lots of them are offering other things like fancy fabrics and that’s basically a matter of surviving.
Sewing is immensely popular here, rather than knitting.

But ME? I’m NOT a sewer and I never will be!
When it comes to yarn, Belgian LYS mainly offer manufactured yarns and loads of sock yarn.
Sock yarn – manufactured – is really all over the place.

I’ve always wondered, are Belgian knitters seriously mainly sock knitters?
Suppose we’re mainly sock knitters, then who’s wearing all these socks?
I never saw one person wearing knit socks.
Okay, Belgian people are often told to be discrete 🙂
Just imagine all these little treasures hidden away in boots 🙂

Don’t get me wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with manufactured yarns and I buy them too.
But I think they can’t compete with hand dyed yarns.
What’s the difference?
Without any doubt, it has to be LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
But beware, once you go fancy, there’s no way back.

I just wished I didn’t have to order my hand dyed yarns outside Belgium so much.

Because …
What about stimulating local economy?
What about ecological footprint?
What about handmade?
What about slow?
Sigh, sigh …

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As I said, from one thing comes the next.

I’m a knitter, but in fact I like many other crafts.
Last year I took a workshop on spinning and two on dyeing.
Knitting, spinning, dyeing, these processes take time but that’s exactly what I like.
They are slow and relaxing.

The dyeing is absolutely fascinating and I’m experimenting with different techniques and color blends. I love it!
Wouldn’t it be nice if I was able to dye up my own yarn.
I don’t need another challenge, but too late for that I’m afraid.

This came out of my dye pot the other day and I’m really in love with it!
I’ve called it Volcano Blue.
When you look at this, can you also see the dark blues and purples from the outside of the volcano and the red and oranges from the lava?

Let me know what you think of it.

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Natural dyeing: horse chestnut husks

I promised I’d show you some more of my experiments with natural dyeing.

Let me first show you the result and then I’ll tell you how I did it.

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Close to my home there are plenty of horse chestnuts. The fresher the husks are the better. I could actually hear – and feel- them drop while I was collecting these.

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Let’s number the skeins from left to right.

The recipes are for a skein of 100 grams.

Skein 1 and 2:
-Collection date and place: September 16 near home (center of Belgium); Depending on the time of year and the place, result can be different;
-No mordants;
-Boil 250 grams (skein 1) or 130 grams (skein 2) of husks with 1 table spoon of ammonia for 1h and let it cool down;
-Take the dyeing material out of the bath; that’s not essential for the recipe but I don’t like my yarn to get filled with dyeing material; this could become a problem when the dyeing material is tiny;
-Boil the yarn for 1h in the dye bath and let it cool down;
-Rince the yarn until the water runs clear and let it dry;
-Result: brown-red brick;

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Skein 4:
As above except:
-Mordant 15% alun;
-100 grams of husks and no ammonia;
-Result: peach;

Skein 3:
-As skein 4;
-In addition, afterbath with 3 grams of iron;
-Result: teak;

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Discovering natural dyeing

I recently followed a workshop on natural dyeing and I’m thrilled. It’s so bonding with nature and the result is like magic.

We learned about “Grands Teints” and “Petits Teints”. “Grands Teints” indicates that the color has proven to be sustainable overtime even when being exposed to light.

We mainly used “Grands Teints” material like walnut, onion shells, cochineal, madder root and reseda.

We first learned about the traditional and ancient dyeing technique according to precise recipes.

Another method was to apply the dyes directly and randomly onto the yarn with a table spoon, wrap the yarn and put it in the microwave or steam oven. Aren’t these two skeins lovely?

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Cochineal and blue-wood.

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Cutch, reseda and a few onion shells.

Finally, we did some solar dyeing.

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Cochineal, walnut leafs, and – sorry for the latin name – Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ all went into the pot and then the sun could do the rest.

And here’s how it came out:

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About a month has gone by and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I’ve been collecting stuff I could use (you need a lot!) and made others collect for me too.
I’ve ordered undyed yarn and mordants.

I think I’m almost ready to do my own natural dyeing.