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Saturday, 22 May 2010

Solar Dyeing


this is nothing new, but for me it is.  It's something I've always wanted to do, but never found the time or had the right weather to do it!

Recently I joined the Sustainable Natural Dye Practice Yahoo Group and this month we have been studying annatto.  As usual, I've been rather busy and not had time to do any dyeing to speak of, just dye packing!  But today, Saturday, one of my weave students didn't turn up, so rather than waste the day I got out my stainless steel pot with glass lid, annatto and some fibres, fabrics and yarn and made a start.  Better late than never, you all might say.

I already had some Corridale fibre and a silk scarf that had been pre-mordanted in alum and cream of tartar, a small amount of merino, un-mordanted, and with a small hank of un-mordanted cotton yarn that totalled 100g.  I put 5g of annatto into a small amount of warm water to dissolve and put this in my pot, adding sufficient warm water to cover my fibres, fabric and yarn that had been soaking in warm soapy water.

I added the wetted goods, put on the glass lid and it's now in the garden in full sun!   It'll have to be moved around to keep in the sun, but that's not a hardship.  I'll periodically check the temperature to see how it's cooking, just out of curiosity more than anything.  When it's dull I'll put it on the south facing window sill in the house and hopefully keep it cooking for at least 3 days!  Not really sure how long to cook it for, all the references on the internet give different times, ranging from 1 day (8 hours) to 3 weeks!

I've just checked the temperature with my dye thermometer and it's not quite up to 50oC, so it looks like it'll be a few days, at least before it's ready to be rinsed.  It's the ideal temperature for indigo, but  not for my annatto.
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