Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patricks Day; a natural rainbow dye tutorial

When I was very small I used to say that Rainbow was my favorite color. 
Or depending on how I felt, I'd also say Clear. 
I was fascinated with both features that I found in my paint box, my barbies' clothes, my Rainbow Bright doll and the stuffed butterfly I had. 

Also since I was small, I always associated rainbows with Ireland and Ireland with rainbows. 
The first time I actually saw a rainbow in Ireland,
 I was experiencing The Burren for the first. 
Seeing those magical colors soar up and through the grey blue sky over Kinvara
the world around me was illuminated even further. 
Standing at Dunguaire Castle with the other tourists, 
gazing out over Galway Bay's low tide. 
I swear the seaweed rose up and sang with happiness because it was practically glowing. 

Sigh... I knew I was destined to return to that area. 
And I did 3 more times.
But more on that later. 

One day last week, I played around with color blending with my natural dye powders 
to create a rainbow self striping yarn for one of my up coming 
And a sampling of the rainbow spectrum
using only 3 dye pots that featured the 3 primary colors. 

I used:

After I dyed up my samples for the knitting class example Judy has made,
I played around with creating a rainbow self striping skien. 

I love how it turned out! 

I'll try and lay out the basic movements I did to achieve the secondary colors.

for the rainbow skien:
Pictures it: your yarn wrapped in a skein. Eyeball it in thirds. 

Start with indigo 
(because in my experience with the vat I have going- it has rite color remover in it which is the same as theoria dioxide- If I dye fiber in another color first and then dip in this indigo vat- it strips the color and then adds indigo.... not my idea of a good time)

So with that said- I always dye with indigo first. 
I dipped a third of my skein in this first. 
I left it for about 15 minutes. 
I pulled it out holding it with the blue downwards and let it drip in the pot for a few minutes as it oxidized from white to yellow to green to blue.
I then gently squeezed the yarn so it wouldn't drip in the next pot. 

I then placed another third in the madder root pot AND set up another small pot right next to the burner with a jar inside- just trying to create a sort of stand. You can use anything though. 
It's important to let the yarn NOT in the dye pot be higher up than what is in the dye pot. 
Otherwise, water will travel up the yarn and find the outlet, pouring all over your stove. 
I also let 1/3 of the blue soak in the madder bath to create purple. 
I had let the yarn sit in the madder for about 20-30 minutes before I pulled it out. 
Again, I gently squeezed only enough to not let it seep into the osage which was my next step.

With the osage, I dipped both the remaining undyed 1/3 AND 1/3 of the other end of the blue- to make green and 1/3 of the madder that was right next to the osage into the osage to create orange. 
One might think this takes a bit of math- but I like to think it takes visualization.

When all is said and done with this dyeing portion, you will end up with;
1/6 red- (madder root)
1/6 orange (osage + madder)
1/6 yellow (osage)
1/6 green (osage + indigo)
1/6 blue (indigo)
1/6 purple (indigo + madder)

You can use many other blending variations to achieve the tones that you like most. 

I'm excited to continue my experimenting with these pigments. 
Many of these results will be for sale in my etsy shop. For example :) 

Alternatively, if you want to create a single color like green, orange or purple with your natural dyes,
follow the color combos above or create your own with whatever makes those same colors. 
For example, you could use indigo + fustic to create green. 
Logwood grey + osage or fustic to create green, 
and so on. 

As far as that magical rainbow skein, I re-skeined it to shuffle my colors:) 
A fun trick to apply to any of your hand painted, dip, space, or vat dyed yarns. 

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions or comments by leaving a comment here. 
I love hearing from you. 



Lynn said...

Rachel hello! We met at Port Fiber yesterday (Thursday) and discussed Fibershed.

WOW!!! I am in awe of your talents and knowledge - you are amazing! So much talent and information loads this wonderful blog - I don't even know where to begin. I love your embroideries and the yarns you make.

Do you have a main page with all the workshops you will be offering? I don't know where to begin!

We should have exchanged email addies. I will try to be there for the next Fibershed at your house - when is it? I have attached my email addy - please use it, I'd love to chat some more :-))))

So lovely to have met you!


44 Clovers said...

Hi Lynn, SO nice to hear from you! Thank you for the kind words:) I would love to chat more too. I tried finding your email through the comments but I had no luck. You can email me at The next meeting is May 23rd a friday from 4-8 (included ferry travel). I'll be posting a blog about that this week. Also, you can check out my classes at the left of my page. I hope to have a website up in a few months:)