Please advise

I recently boiled some black walnut to use for dye.  However, I wasn't able to use it quickly and mold has grown on the surface.  Can I still use it to dye with after I strain it?  Also, can I let it sit strained in a bottle until I use it?




Posted on Mon, 12/17/2012 - 19:43

Sure, I use a cheesecloth or a coffee metel filter to strain off the mold.  Sometimes one can just use a paper towel on the surface of the dyepot and pull the mold off.  Try to get most of it since it can settle on your yarn and "spot" it.  At the least rotate your yarn while you dye it to ensure that the skein doesn't settle against debris in the bottom of the dyepot.

Make sure your bottle is closed tightly to reduce chance of molding again before you use it.  Part of natural dyeing is dealing with the "natural" process.  Smells, molds...all part of the alchemy.  

regards  Deb Mc

Posted on Tue, 12/18/2012 - 00:21

I put the wool to be dyed in mesh bags. With walnut I typically am dyeing fleece.

I keep a walnut pot going starting from the time the walnuts start dropping through the fall.  I have an aluminum bushel and just toss the walnuts in -- rind and all -- and add water.  If mosquito larvae appear, I add vinegar.  It would gross some people out, but it's painless and it works.  Also, oak leaves fall in, adding tannin. I have also been known to throw in onion skins.

There is no heating, straining, muss, or fuss.  I leave the bags of fleece in somewhere between a day and a week.  The colors are excellent and fast.


Posted on Tue, 12/18/2012 - 00:31

Skeins require a bit more effort than the dyed in the wool fleece. Folks just need to understand that the two are handled differently because of the spun versus unspun stages.

Posted on Tue, 12/18/2012 - 05:29

Thanks so much for your responses.  This will be my first, of hopefully, many successful natural dying.  



Posted on Wed, 12/19/2012 - 00:20

Quite true re: skeins -- I use a wholly different methodology for them. 

I prefer dyeing in the wool to dyeing skeins because I typically blend more than one color or tone before spinning.  Although I have been known to space-dye skeins (and design a threading pattern to go with the space dyeing) I typically use synthetic dyes (lanaset) and go for even color distribution with them.  Even with synthetic dyes, slightly uneven blending gives a more "natural" look to the yarn, which is what I am going for when using natural dyes. 

The other advantage to a "rot pot", sun-activated dye methodology is that you can't felt your wool.  Although I generally pre-wash (in most cases, scour) my fleeces before dyeing, it's possible with this method to retain some or all of the grease if you want to.

Anyway, there are exciting but somewhat disgusting pathways to travel when it comes to natural dyeing:  cochineal, natural urea, fermenting indigo, etc.  A little mold in the walnut juice is just fine.