Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mint into the Dye Pot

I harvested a bunch ( I mean a bunch!) of spearmint, peppermint and chocolate mint from my garden this past summer and dried it.  I put all of the dried bunches together in a large box.  I didn't keep the varieties separate.  I got tired of moving the box around so I decided to squeeze the dried bunches with my hands to remove the dried leaves.  I filled a large freezer bag with dried mint leaves and still had some left so I pulled out my spice grinder and whizzed a bit to a fine powder to use in my soaps.

I got out my garden shearers and cut the dried stems up a bit and tossed whatever remained in the box + a few handfuls of some dried leaves into my dye pot added some water and let it simmer.

While the mint was simmering, I scoured a skein of Skacel Merino Lace - a discontinued yarn that I found at my LYS.  It was a bare skein of superwash wool.  After scouring it smelled kind of like bleach.

 Not sure if they actually bleached the fibers to get it white or if that stench is from the superwashing process.  From what I understand they coat the wool fibers with plastic so the barbs on each strand will not felt when agitated.....nasty!  I'm not a fan of superwash, but it was at my LYS, bare, within my price range and I had a gift certificate.  

This skein is 100g so that means I needed about 2tsp of Alum and the same of CoT for mordant.

Once the skein was cooled in the mordant bath I added my liquid mint dye.

This simmered for about an hour.  I pulled it out and it was somewhat of a tan bland color so I added 2 tsp of baking soda to the dye bath and mixed it around to dissolve.  This immediately changed the color of the dye to a darker color.  I made sure everything was dissolved and I put the skein back in.  The baking soda changes the ph of the dye - hence changes the color.  I let it simmer for a bit longer, turned off the heat and let it sit overnight.  The result is very pleasing.  

Reading online and in books, I see most people mention that mint dyes a green color so I'm happy with my result.  I'm planning to knit a cropped 3/4 length sleeve cardi with the mint dyed yarn and add a lace button band in grey....should be perfect for Spring.  Love the Grellow color combo.

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