Monday, February 11, 2013

Black Bean Dying with Wool

I decided to do some dying with black beans. Why? Because if Woman With Wings can do it, so can I. Here is her blog address for this and other interesting adventures. Search for Black Bean Monday.

Woman with Wings soaked her dried black beans for 24 hours in water, and her animal fibres in an alum mordant for 18 hours. For her plant based fibres, she soaked them in soymilk and water for 18 hours.

Naturally, I didn't follow instructions, but they were a bit vague anyways. My excuse this time is that I had a concussion and following instructions was a challenge.

I filled my dye pot about 1/4 full. It has been used with commercial dyes in the past, so I did not keep the beans for a soup or stew as Woman With Wings suggested. I chucked them in the city compost. I soaked the beans in front of the fireplace while the fire was going for a total of 12 hours and at room temperature for a further 10-ish hours.

The natural yarn (as in natural colour), probably Briggs and Little, I soaked in tepid to room temperature water, with alum and a good-for-the-environment dish soap. This lasted about 5 hours, when I then forgot to wait the other 13 hours and dumped it out. I re-soaked them again for 2 hours the night of the dye experiment.

Into the pot went 3 cups of the water from the beans, with 2 cups held in reserve for the cottons. I did not dilute the bean water. I scooped two skeins of  wool over from it's soaking bath, and then brought the two up to med/hi. Everything was stirred several times. Once it reached the state of 'ouch', I reduced it to minimum and let it simmer for an hour with a few stirrings.

I decided to let the combination of wool and water cool to room temperature while I searched my memory on what happens with the bottle of vinegar that I knew I needed to use. I put two more skeins of the natural coloured yarn into the slightly exhausted dye bath. One skein was sort of squished down, with bits left to float while the second skein was dipped into the bath and allowed to float on top of the lower skein. A vinegar bath later and these are the results.

In real life the darker two are a sort of indigo grey, the middle skein is headed towards a bright indigo and the lightest skein is disappointing. It is dyed just enough to be neither a clean cream nor a light blue or grey.  More as if it had been dropped in the ashes.

Because the last skein disappointed me, I decided to go a bit further. Woman with Wings makes a reference to dying with soy milk as a mordant. I couldn't find any details about it, it will be my next foray into excitement, but in the meantime I plunged the lightest skein into 200 ml of soy milk and water, let it soak over night. As well a bowl of 1 cup of beans was soaking. I redid the dying process. The top right ball is the soymilk + alum + vinegar + black bean result. It is a softer grey and looks a little more deliberate than dirty.

I am nicely surprised by the results and think it is worth buying another bag of dried black beans to do again. By then, I hope to have found better information on the soy milk as mordant process.

 My soy milk as mordant research has led me so far to this, if any of you want to continue along the path before I get to it.

Talk about methodical ! Turkey Red Journal has all sorts of numbers and consistency going on there. And good photographs. It is very inspirational, especially if you like measuring things.

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