As a newbie at natural dye experimentation, I find it exciting that I never quite know what colour I’m going to get. Logwood is the perfect example. Logwood, otherwise known as Haematoxylum campechianum…(yeah, I can’t pronounce that either). It is a flowering tree native to Southern Mexico and the bark has been used for hundreds of years to produce a dye that can range from black to pale lilac. The wood chips are a reddish-brown colour. and when I soaked them overnight…the colour of the dye bath was also a kind of rust. I added Peartree Supersoft merino 4ply and also Pollika organic Merino, 2ply, both mordanted with alum. I left the yarn in the bath at around 80C for an hour. As the yarn soaked up the dye, a lovely deep purple appeared. Interestingly, the dye bath also changed to purple. Maybe the heat had something to do with that. Seemed like there was a lot of dye-bath left so I did another small skein in the same bath to see what colour I would get. This time I got a paler shade of purple.
I rinsed the yarn over and over and stained everything including my hands (wear gloves). I found that some people increase the mordant with Logwood so that the dye will hold a little better. I think this is good advice. I will still give the yarn an extra rinse.
So far I have only done small quantities of yarn in each dye bath and I have not added any alkaline or acid to the baths or mordants to alter the pH of the water (which can greatly effect the colours produced by some dyes, including Logwood). Right now I am curious to see the colours I get with my very own tap water. I am guessing it is quite a soft water…but next time I’ll try adding something else (e.g., bicarbonate of soda or a Tums) and see what I get.
I also tried dyeing with pomegranate. The rind of the pomegranate is used to create a dye and not the berries. I got a pleasant mustard colour which, when overdyed with cochineal, resulted in a rust colour. I read that pomegranate is often used as a mordent and is the yellow that you can add to other dyes to bring out greens and oranges. I’d like to get a green if I can. And of course, my indigo kit is waiting to be tried out. That is my next dyeing project. The colours are not quite true here. The reds are not so coral looking. The left is pomegranate, the middle piece was originally dyed with black bean, then pomegranate, then cochineal. The right skein is pomegranate and cochineal.
I have managed to get quite a few lovely colours from the latest dye batches, with only a little effort. Now to actually make something!