Birmingham Weavers, Spinners ​and Dyers

Blog for Birmingham & District ​Guild of Weavers, Spinners ​and Dyers


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Natural & Acid Dyes Picnic

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

The June meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers was dedicated to a dyeing day at the home of Guild member Sarah Cage.

During the day, Guild members and visitors dyed yarn, fibre and fabric with both natural and acid dyes. Seven different natural dyes were tested: cochineal (pink/red), logwood (purple/grey), Christmas nut shells (browns), cardoon (yellow), red onion skin (brown), lichen (yellow), and indigo (blue).

In addition to dyeing, there was plenty of tea, cake and a buffet lunch.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers June 2017


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A Year in Colour Exhibition

Between January and December 2015, Guild members dyed yarn with a range of leaves, flowers, roots and bark, from the gardens at Winterbourne House.

The results of the year’s dyeing experiments are being displayed in the Coach House Gallery at Winterbourne between the 1 – 25th April (with take-down on the 26th).

Entrance to the gallery is free. Opening hours are 10:00-5:30 weekdays, 11:00-5:30 weekends.

Read more about the project on the dedicated project blog.

A Year in Colour Exhibition Flyer


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Dyer’s Picnic: Acid Dyed Self-Striping Sock Yarn

Naturally Dyed Yarn

At the June 2015 meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, we tried out acid dyes, in addition to natural dyes. Led by Guild member Rachel, we dyed white yarn to make self-striping sock yarn.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Acid dyes work with protein (animal) fibres and with nylon (as it’s also a polyamide), but not cellulose (plant) fibres. The yarn we were using was a wool and nylon blend. Acid dyes can be purchased with or without the acid already included. We used Kemtex and Colourcraft powdered dyes, and added white vinegar (citric acid is an alternative option) as our acid.

When mixing the powdered dye with the acid you only require 5 gram (approximately one tea spoon) per 100 gram of wool for a strong colour, so a tub of the powdered dye goes a long way. (Rachel recommended 1.5 – 2 gram of dye for medium colours, and 0.5 gram for pale colours).

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

In order to make a four colour self-striping sock yarn, we each started with 100 grams of white sock yarn, wound into a skein approximately 6.4 metres long, and secured with figures of eight ties every 50cm. (Rachel advised that, when knitted up, this would equate to approximately 2 row stripes of each colour at 64 stitch rows on 2mm needles).

While our skeins were soaking in a bowl of water, we prepared four dyes in separate containers (plastic cups in our case). As only 5 gram of dye is required per 100 gram of wool, we only needed one quarter that amount per dye colour (which equated to approximately one quarter of a teaspoon). One full teaspoon of white vinegar was added to each dye (it’s best to err on the side of too much rather than too little with the acid), and the cups were topped up with enough water to cover the wool.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Once the skeins were thoroughly wet, they were squeezed dry, and then divided equally between the four containers. With such a long skein it’s easy to mess this bit up, so it’s worth taking care to ensure that you have the colours in your preferred order and don’t splash the dye. You also need to make sure that you don’t end up with a white section of yarn at the ‘joins’ between the four colours.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

The skeins were left to soak in the dye for ten minutes, after which we carefully removed one quarter at a time from it’s container and wrapped it individually in clingfilm. Once all four sections had been individually wrapped in clingfilm, a final layer was wrapped around the whole skein.

In order to fix the colour, the skeins then had to be heated. We did this by placing the clingfilm wrapped skeins in a steamer on the hob for thirty minutes. This heating can also be done in the microwave or oven, but there’s a much greater chance of burning your wool…

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Once removed from the steamer, skeins were left to cool overnight before being rinsed in cool water and then washed. If no colour runs when the wool is washed the dye has taken.

Acid Dyed Sock Yarn

Acid Dyed Sock Yarn

Some guild members used an alternative method to dye fleece for spinning. The dye was prepared in the same way, but then applied to the fleece using syringes or paint brushes. The fleece was wrapped in clingfilm and steamed in the same way to fix the dye. When dyeing fleece you don’t need to worry about leaving white patches, as these will blend in and lighten the yarn once it’s spun.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers


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Dyer’s Picnic

Naturally Dyed Yarn

The Guild’s June 2015 meeting was dedicated to a dyeing day at the home of Sarah, one of the Guild’s members.

During the day we dyed yarn and fleece with both natural and acid dyes. This post contains the results of dyeing with nine different natural dyes, a separate post will cover acid dyeing.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Attendees pre-mordanted fibres for dyeing a few days in advance, with alum and cream of tartar, so that they would take the dyes and be less prone to fading.

In addition to lots of dyeing, everyone that attended the dyeing day brought along something for a shared buffet lunch, so there was endless food, tea and coffee to sustain us.

The dyeing itself took place in Sarah’s garden on three separate camping stoves, and in an assortment of metal bowls.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

There were also some nice things to buy, including vintage knitting patterns and magazines, and hand dyed yarn by Sarah Cage.

Hand dyed yarn by Sarah Cage

The nine natural dyes we tried are listed below, with photos of sample colours obtained.

Dyer’s Coreopsis

Coreopsis typically produces a yellow dye, but we achieved a lovely yellow-brown.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Walnut

Walnut is a substantive dye and produced a pale brown.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Walnut

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Walnut

Brazilwood

We achieved a lovely range of pinks using Brazilwood, and paler pinks with Woodruff.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Brazilwood

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Brazilwood

Woodruff

Woodruff (the roots are the section used for dye) was one of the plants we used for dyeing which was grown in Sarah’s garden, where the dyeing day was held. The plant was growing right alongside where we were stood.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Woodruff

Privet

We achieved bright yellows with privet. The privet we used had just been trimmed off a hedge in Sarah’s garden, so we put the offcuts to good use.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Privet

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Privet

Feverfew

We achieved a paler yellow with fresh feverfew.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Feverfew

Indigo

We achieved a pale blue using indigo extract, due to the volume of extract used and/or number of projects in the pot. The two aran yarns pictured below achieved slightly different shades of blue, as one spent slightly longer in the dye pot at a higher temperature.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Indigo

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Indigo

Lichen

Lichen produced a pale brown. There are ethical issues around using lichen for dyeing as they grow very slowly and may be protected species, so shouldn’t be foraged. However, the dryed lichen we were using had been in the possession of members of the guild for many years.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Lichen

Logwood

Logwood produced a range of purples.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Logwood

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Logwood

The dyeing day was a great opportunity to try a range of natural dyes, in good company.

Naturally Dyed Yarn