Yarns, wools, silk and fabric were pre soaked, some without any mordant and some with alum and some with iron. And towards the end of the dye baths we added mordants to the bath itself and re soaked some of our yarns. I did this with my sock yarn dyed with madder: it went in the dye bath with no mordant, emerged a lovely red-orange, then I returned it to the dye bath after alum had been added and it deepened the tone.
At the end of the workshop we created a number of sample cards of the handspun yarn (either alpaca or white-faced woodland) indicating for each dye bath - madder, weld, onion skins and berries - the various colours achieved by no mordant, alum mordant and iron mordant.
I recorded most of the process in photos.
Yarns soaking in water
|Leaves and stalks of the weld plant|
Blackberries and elderberries
|Heating the madder dye bath|
Heating the weld dye bath
Heating the onion dye bath
|A selection of mordants. NB. Tin is not environmentally friendly!|
|the madder dye bath with yarns|
|the weld dye bath with yarns|
Fairisle gloves from Beetlefelt studios, dyed with onion skins, the colours achieved by using a range of mordants as listed below,
And my own efforts,
|My sock yarn dyed with madder, alum added later|
|My sock yarn dyed with weld. Iron mordant to be added to deepen colour|
and make the yarn colourfast
|A range of Beetlefelt hand spun yarns dyed with natural dyes and a variety of mordants|