Monday, November 17, 2014

Marigolds, Merino, and Mohair

Dear Mom,
Before I cleaned up the garden, and inspired by these books, I harvested a gallon sun tea jar's worth of marigold flowers with the hopes of dying some of that lovely Merino/Mohair roving I have.

 I must confess that it took me awhile to get over some of the weights and measures and science and decide to see what happened with what I have. I pre-mordanted the fiber in Alum and prepared the dye stock by simmering the marigolds in a huge stock pot for about an hour. It was still warm outside and my windows were open. Although I did not find the smell offensive, I don't think I'd want to do this with the windows closed. In other words, this is a fair weather process.

After I strained out the plant material I gently put the roving into the steamy marigold broth. I allowed it to steep for about 45 minutes. To avoid handling the fiber, I placed it into a large mesh zippered laundry bag. I am glad I did it this way because I was able to pull the fiber out and save the broth. It took several rinses before the fiber was clear of residual dye. I spun the bag of fiber in the front loader and laid it out to finish drying.

I was very pleased with the result!

 A few days later I decided to play things fast and loose (for me) and put another batch of pre-mordanted fiber into the leftover, re-heated marigold broth. Another good result- a little paler in color, but still very pretty.

 Then I really got carried away and reused the alum mordant bath on two small bundles of roving and put the twice used marigold broth into two crockpots. I let the fiber "cook" all night.  I am sure there are good reasons (probably many of them) for these crockpots to end up at the Goodwill where I purchased them. I discovered one of the reasons for one of those crockpots had to be that it gets way too hot. When I checked on my little experiments the next morning, one of the pots was sputtering and boiling over! Yikes! I was afraid I'd find a felted blob of wool inside. Both pots yielded more pretty color, and the overheated fiber has an interesting bronze color.
Crock pot 1- "normal" heat

super hot crock pot
This next photo has all 4 rovings lined up from 1st batch on the left to the super heated batch on the right.
I've started spinning that first ball. I have a bright red felted wool coat and a navy pea coat and think this yellow wool will make a pretty scarf or maybe even a scarf and hat that will look nice with both.
In spinning this blend of fibers, it is a treat to see the shimmery mohair bits with the merino and how they've each taken up the dye differently but very subtly.
You should be able to see the slight differences in this next photo. Some of the shades are a result of the dye not being consistently absorbed throughout the roving (which I like) and some is the difference in the merino and mohair.
I won't have any more marigolds to play with until next summer. I do have other things on my dye shelf in the garage to play with though!