Adventure in Dyeing

This past summer I warped the floor loom for a couple of cotton shirts, and a tea towel. The first shirt was woven and cut off the loom in time to take to the mid-June Palouse Fiber Festival in Moscow. A simple, basic cotton slub shirt; sett 16 dpi woven in twill except for the shoulder area which was woven in plain weave. Two shuttles are used on this section where the neck opening is an integral part of the weaving.

The neck opening hemmed after taking it off the loom.
My very basic woven shirt – a pattern I came up with over 30 years ago.

The second shirt and towel languished on the loom for the next couple of months before I was inspired to finish weaving them after reading about a natural dye material that produces a light rose.

The recipe I’d read used only water on the dye ingredient. No mordant or fixer. How easy would that be! And I could use my kitchen pot to simmer the material in. For a few weeks the material accumulated in the freezer until it seemed there was enough.
After simmering the dye source for an hour, while soaking the second shirt material in plain water, the material was wrung out and added to the simmering pot.

Where it stayed at a very low simmer for 20 minutes after which it was left to cool down and steep for the next four hours. At this point I was completely guessing how long it should stay in the solution. I wanted as deep of a color as possible, one that wouldn’t wash out.
A dinner plate was placed on top to keep it all submerged.
Finally, the water was poured off, the material soaked a bit in cool water with a glug of vinegar before rinsing it under running water, rolled in a towel and draped over the dish rack to dry.
The finished, dyed cloth waiting for the seams to be sown so it can be worn. Yep, that still needs to happen!
Any guesses what source was used for this color? It’s from the seed (some call them pits) of a food…


Author: Wanda J

I never dreamed my life would be entangled with fiber and the tools used to produce fibery items. When I bought a boat shuttle used in weaving Ed looked at it, decided to make a better one and the rest is history. For a decade he made shuttles, crochet hooks, knitting needles, until his spindles became so popular that he had to devote his time to making them, as well as Walking Wheels. Free time is spent reading, trying to coax food from the ground, and playing in the creek near our place. I love long walks and camping far from crowds. Playing a fiddle beside a stream or with good friends brings sweetness to my soul. Sundays are set aside for worshiping God with our small Quaker meeting.

10 thoughts on “Adventure in Dyeing”

  1. such lovely work Wanda….I love the stuff that you used to dye this pretty colour but haven’t eaten one for ages because I’ve been trying to lose weight. I will definitely save the seeds in the freezer for trying this out!

  2. Such a lovely colour! I see that someone already guessed right, and her answer reminded me I had seen something about avocado being used to dye fiber, but I wouldn’t have imagined it producing a delicate pink. Considering the colour you’ve got, and with you living in the land of cherry trees, my own guess would have been cherry pits. And now I wonder if they can be used to dye, and what kind of surprising colour they’d produce…

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