Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Slow Textiles: Experiments in Natural Dyeing

My fascination with natural dyes continues unabated! Here are more of my experiments with immersion dyeing, bundle dyeing, and rust dyeing from the past couple of months.

I. Bundle dyeing

Quick-and-dirty bundle dyeing (aka eco-dyeing/printing, originated by the inspirational India Flint) instructions: Wet prewashed & premordanted cloth, lay out the dyeing agent (leaves or flowers), then roll the cloth around a stick or a copper pipe. Steam or boil for 60 min. Allow to dry for as long as you can stand (ideally weeks, overnight at minimum), then open the bundle.

What I actually did:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Slow Textiles: Experiments in Dyeing using Black Beans

Inspired by these blog posts found via Pinterest, I soaked black beans (no-name brand from the grocery store, 1 cup, in 8 cups of tap water) for about 24 hours at room temperature (then cooked the beans, to be added to a chili today, mmmmm). The extracted colour was much more red than blue. I added more water and some alum, to act as a co-mordant, then I dumped in my fabric. In retrospect perhaps co-mordanting was a mistake; premordanting fabric that has been properly stripped would typically give a much stronger colour.

Before dyeing: off-white bamboo-rayon socks, and 8 m/m silk habotai scarves that were previously dyed with logwood and alum mordant.
I also, inspired by this Spirit Cloth post, tied some black beans into a rayon-spandex (95%-5%) tshirt and threw it into the pot, too. Then I let everything sit at room temperature, with a plate on top to keep the fabric all underwater, overnight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Canadian Kitchen Garden: USDA Zone 3

This weekend is the Victoria Day long weekend, which Edmontonians usually consider the beginning of the frost-free season and safe to plant seedlings, and things are finally starting to green up - so my thoughts have turned to establishing my kitchen garden. 

(September 7th update: skip to the bottom of the post for photos from the end of the season!)

happy bee on an Evans Cherry sapling in bloom at the garden centre
I grew up in Nova Scotia (USDA Zone 5ish), but all my gardening as an adult has been in Edmonton (USDA zone 3, which you can push to zone 4 in protected microclimates). The cottage-style garden I made at my last home was purely decorative, with an emphasis on peonies, iris, hostas, and daylilies. I am sorely missing the now-mature Evans Cherry tree we planted in that garden, and the gorgeous sour cherry gelato I made from its fruit. Sigh.

my little raised bed from last summer needs rebuilding already
However, two summers ago we moved house to a larger lot, and so this summer's labour of love is turning the bare bones planted by the previous owners into a proper kitchen garden.