Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cranberries; a dye tutorial

Like my blueberry experiment this past October, I thought I'd give these freezer burned cranberries a go. I had some hunches about how colors might turn out in regards to my blueberry results. Though with the cranberries, I was pleasantly surprised. 

1st dye bath:
to start, I had 13oz of cranberries
9 grams of 100% wool yarn in the form of 3 tiny skeins. 
1 skein with no mordant
1 skein with alum
1 skein with vinegar

This first picture is the non mordanted yarn half way through the dyeing cycle. I'm checking the yarn. I gave it a few squeezes to check the color-- because I'm impatient. 
Sometimes I'll reach into the pot & tug on the yarn a little, drying it with the corner of a dish towel to check the color. 

Later, to let it cool off gradually while I used the other cranberries for more experiments, I moved this first skein into a jar. The wool darken over time in the bath- which is a good sign. 

Left- vinegar only
Right- alum only

from bottom (darkest) to top: no mordant, alum, vinegar. 

All the skeins reached a heat of about 160-180 over the course of about an hour. 

The next morning a dyed with a 2nd cycle or dye bath. Leaving the cranberries in the whole time, thinking that creating a contact dye might give me bester results.... 


The tiny ball of yarn is a kid mohair silk blend- sitting on a vintage silk hankie. 

I was impressed with the no mordant color from that first yarn- but I also really like the alum yarn as it was a bit brighter. That's what I used for this kid silk yarn & hankie- alum. 

I think cream of tartar would have a place here with cranberries as well as it acts as a brightener. 

What do you think? Have you dyed with cranberries? 

This would be a great activity to try with your children as well. If your concerned about heat or alum (for those that have wondered- alum is also used in our water supply for cleansing purposes. BUT WITH THAT SAID- YOU SHOULD STILL ALWAYS KEEP YOUR FOOD COOKING POTS AND UTENSILS SEPERATE FROM ALL YOUR DYE POTS AND UTENSILS. 

For another experiment- not something I've tried yet- try soaking the cranberries for a few days to extract color- add a natural fiber of any form & let sit in the sun in your home or outside. I wonder if you'll get some dye action this way? If you try it, let me know. 

If you've dyed with cranberries or if you have any questions- leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you! 

7 comments:

Donna said...

I have some leftover cranberries in my refrigerator. I think I might try this over the weekend!

Mylisa said...

Is it colorfast??

44 Clovers said...

Hi Mylisa, thanks for asking. This is the first time I've used cranberrries and my *feeling* so far is, yes, it is color fast. However, that's another way of saying I'm not sure. With out doing light and vigorous wash tests, I'm not 100% certain. However, the color hasn't faded yet! Because of the natural acidity of the cranberries, it helps, alongside the added alum as mordant- also helps.

44 Clovers said...

Hi Mylisa, thanks for asking. This is the first time I've used cranberrries and my *feeling* so far is, yes, it is color fast. However, that's another way of saying I'm not sure. With out doing light and vigorous wash tests, I'm not 100% certain. However, the color hasn't faded yet! Because of the natural acidity of the cranberries, it helps, alongside the added alum as mordant- also helps.

jacquieknits.com said...

How colorfast are the berries dyes? Do you try and fix the color with vinegar after?

Rachel Kessler said...

Hi Jacquie, Thanks for asking! I was just going through my dye samples today and did notice some of the color has faded since I did this over 7 months ago. Now this was on wool with heat and with alum. I've had better luck with no heat, longer soaks and yes, vinegar. With the blueberries they lasted a bit longer too.

Berries seem to just behave differently in the dye bath then plants do. I think because so much of their pigment is so ready to be extracted. Where with plants, heat and most of the time alum or another mordant really help to extract their full potential. Not really the case with berries. I found that heat made the berry pigment sad. I would also try salt or salt water if your near a source. Who knows what might happen there! Some day I'll try it myself:)

shaun vain said...

This helped a lot thanks! I'm trying it with cranberry raisins because it's what I have available. I made a nice black walnut dye earlier today. Makes a good henna type ink!