Nothing says “it’s time to finish washing your fleece” like an upcoming fleece sale. That’s right. This Saturday, June 10, there will be a fleece sale in Langley. I was really considering driving down and buying a nice local fleece — maybe something mohair — but then thought, “hey, maybe I should finish using up the Gotland fleece I already have on hand”… so, out come the dyes…
I had just over 1 1/2 pounds left of the fleece, so I washed it, mordanted with alum and dyed it up with Pomegranate and Osage Orange natural dyes. Pomegranate dye is made from rinds of pomegranates and is high in tannin — it is supposed to give a gold/brown/yellow kind of colour. I think it’s better described as “caramel”. The Pomegranate comes as an extract, so all you need to do is add water and go. Here is the dye extract with just a bit of water… it looks just like chocolate ganache… and smells sticky sweet like port and maple syrup…
The Osage Orange, on the other hand, comes as sawdust… It’s cheaper this way. You can buy the liquid extract but Maiwa happened to be sold out when I was there. The Osage dyebath is easy enough to make though — put the sawdust in a pot with enough water to cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Decant and repeat. Since I was waiting for the fleece to finish mordanting, I simmered and decanted the Osage dyebath three times, straining it through an old nylon stocking each time.
Unfortunately, I ran out of alum and so the fleece that was dyed with Pomegranate only had half the amount of alum that it should have. That probably affected the final colour. The Pomegranate dye pot had lots of sticky scum on top, so I was anxious to get the fleece out of the pot and rinse it.
The final colours on this fleece… honey and lemons. That’s what I got. Caramelly honey colour and light lemony yellow.
I’ve separated the darker fleece from the lighter fleece so that when I card and spin the Osage Orange fleece, I’ll get a beautiful, clear lemon yellow yarn and a darker grey/green yellow yarn. The darker yarn will then go into an indigo bath to turn it mossy green. Yeah, sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll do an indigo day and overdye a little of everything I have in the stash — yarn, fibre, wool, silk, whatever.
The colours turned out very much lighter than what I expected, and I have to admit I was a little deflated by that initially — but now when I see that caramel-coloured fleece in the living room light, I love it. It’s subtle and gorgeous — I could dive right in. So this Saturday, instead of buying more fleece, I’ll be playing with this beautiful golden fleece!
Oh, and while I was dyeing on Sunday, Michelle dropped by to show me her first spindle-spun handspun. This is before setting the twist… so wonderful!
And we reviewed my second attempt at getting the right purple on silk…
The Lanaset worked _so_ much better on these skeins of silk. They were immersion dyed in a big pot and the colour is quite even throughout. The skein on the right, the dark eggplant purple, is actually a mix of five different Lanaset dyes to give a colour that is deep but vibrant and glittery.