Friday, October 24, 2008

Rabbit Brush Stew

I collected two pounds of stems and blossoms from a rabbit brush plant. It's by our driveway and is actually one of the few still in bloom. Amy has since pointed out to me that the yellow of the flowers is fugitive and that the actual dye color comes from the plant itself. That's good news since it means I can collect and dye from rabbit brush any time during the year, whether the plant is in bloom or not
These are the skeins I've collected for this dye bath. They total one pound, for which I collected two pounds of rabbit brush. The skein on the left is white border leicester and it's neighbor is light grey Romney. The rest are skeins that I dyed with indigo earlier this year,with the two on the right being overdyed grey Romney.
And this my result. I mordanted in the dye bath. I used 10% alum and 5% cream of tarter of the weight of dry skeins. I cooked them for an hour before I left for work, but the giant pot was too hot to move so they sat in the dye bath all day.
I love these colors. At first I was disap-
pointed at how muted they were and I blamed the rabbit brush. I realize now that I really didn't have strong enough blues to produce deeper greens.
It was a lightbulb moment when I cut the skein ties off. As I wound the skeins into balls, the ties started to pile up and I realized that they were a terrific moss green. The ties were from a natural brown skein - a leftover from something, spun of something.
So - these are the skeins I have collected from natural dyes. They are from luster long wools, which is what Sara recommends for cut-pile weaving. I don't know how to cut-pile weave but plan to learn. The light bulb moment was then it occurred to me that I could have been using Shetland and been knitting caps from these colors.

What a dunce! I need a drink.


Mim said...

NO dunce just the next thought in the progression of great ideas! Get the dye pot out and pick more rabbit brush. Let me know when I'll come drop something in.
I have no patience for natural dyeing.
Love those dull natural colors tho. Beautiful!

Marie said...

Great neutrals! I haven't used natural dyes in a very long time. Love your collection of colors. How did you achieve the orange/rust?

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

I wanna come!!! I haven't used naturals to dye with yet; the word 'mordant' scares me LOL

Marie said...

alum = pickles
cream of tartar = schnickerdoodles
Have no fear!!

Sharon said...

The rust/orange was from madder and I believe we were using extracts from Earth Hues. Two friends have madder beds and I'd like to start one of my own. I just like the idea that I'm actually harvesting my own dye plants.

Leigh said...

What an absolutely gorgeous collection! I like the idea of self harvesting dye plants too. The rabbit brush was a great experiment.

Barbara C. said...

Beautiful hues....achoo. You do lovely work....achoo.
Do you know what I am allergic to?

wooly daisy said...

what does rabbit brush look like in its full form? how to identify? i need to talk soap -email me!

wonderful dye job gurl!!!!

June said...

It's all wonderful eye candy!! Wow!

Lee said...


Someday I plan to start playing (more) with dyeing, especially natural dyes. I don't have fear so much as an over-abundance of other projects.

Robin said...

The colors are SO pretty! Very earthy. I was in a booth at SAFF this past weekend and all they had were the natural colors of the fleece all carded into batts. They were beautiful!

bspinner said...

Beautiful dye job!!!! Can't wait to see what you do with them.