More Fun With pH

That’s a variation on one of my alkaline extraction natural dyes on the left, and a pH modifier test on the right. I’m tempted to leave them hanging on the towel rod in the bathroom because they look so pretty in there.

Naturally dyed yarns by Donna Kallner.

For the one on the left, I simmered the wool yarn in a rhubarb leaf immersion bath. That helped use up some of the frozen dye materials that were relegated to the porch in my recent freezer purge.

Natural dye from willow bark alkaline extraction.

After the rhubarb bath, I rinsed the yarn, then ladled on some of my willow bark alkaline extraction and let it marinade for a day. After removing the yarn from that dyebath, I let it oxidize about a week before rinsing and washing. There was less wash-out after rhubarb than without rhubarb, and I love the color.

Sumac natural dye experiment with pH modifer.

The second yarn was dyed in a bath made from frozen staghorn sumac fruit clusters. First, I wetted out the yarn in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. After simmering it in the dyebath, I had a meh beige. I soaked that with wood ash water to shift the pH. The color was still nothing special. But I let it sit in that modifier overnight, and that made the difference. After oxidizing for a week then washing and drying, the yarn is a lovely, subtle greenish brown.

With sub-zero temperatures this week, there was no chance the cooler of dye materials on the porch would thaw out. Next week, though, might be warmer. At least we can hope so.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin