Dyeing Chunky Yarn

Burns, R. 2018.  Modular Swatch.  Photograph.

Burns, R. 2018. Modular Swatch. Photograph.

I really liked a swatch I had designed last trimester - a hand knitted piece constructed in a modular fashion with different textures and naturally dyed colours of British Wool yarns. I felt the colour palette was a bit drab (image on left), and so I wanted to brighten the colours a little using alternative dye stuffs.

I bought similar yarns to before to ensure a good variety of textures: Super Chunky Bluefaced Leicester from Laxtons Yarns, Wool City Wool Bella Pure British Wool Roving and Wool City Wool Super Chunky British Wool from Airedale Yarns.

The colours/dye recipes that remained the same were: walnut x 2 (one skein dyed after another in the same dye bath to give a deep brown and a beige) and pomegranate (1 fruit skin destined for the compost bin soaked in water for 3 days) and onion skin.

According to p118 of Wild Colour, a pale grey/purple can be achieved with crushed oak galls on alum mordanted wool and an iron modifier. Unfortunately, I added the wrong skein to the dye pot and got a deep purple from an non-mordanted skein (middle image below)! It made a lovely shade of purple, but wasn't what I was looking for, and so I had to repeat the process with an alum mordanted skein to acheieve a pale grey/lilac hue. I ensured to only use a small amount of iron so as not to damage the wool, and retained the liquid to use again at a later date/dispose of safely.

The final skein was dyed with some leftover chlorophyllin extract to produce a bright, but not too bright green. I'm planning to hand knit a modular garment with these yarns, using a rough shape as a pattern but making the placement and size of each section random.

Burns, R. 2018.  Chunky Dyeing 4.  Photograph.

Burns, R. 2018. Chunky Dyeing 4. Photograph.


Dean, J. 1999. Wild Colour. London: Octopus.