21 Jun

dyeing cotton with onion skins

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

After I finished dyeing the skeins of wool in my recent onion skin wool dyeing experiment, quite a potent dye baths were left over. A shame, of course, to let it go to waste. I decided that dyeing cotton with onion skins was in order! Fortunately, I have some, that has been lingering in my stash for years.

This cotton yarn is an unbleached coned yarn, that I originally bought for dishcloths and such. It turned out a tad too thin for that though, so it has been lingering in the stash ever since. I perfect candidate for some dye experimentation!

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Materials

In this experiment, I did not have to prepare the dye baths themselves because I used the leftover ones from my wool dyeing experiment. Also, I decided not to mordant the cotton yarn, despite the fact that I read that plant or cellulose fibers are more challenging to dye than protein based fibers like wool or silk. I also read, that there was no need to mordant cotton with onion skin dye. So I decided to take the plunge and go ahead without!

I used the following materials:

  • Cotton yarn, 4 skeins of 100 g each
  • Detergent (without enzymes)
  • Yellow onion skin dye bath (second dye bath)
  • Red onion skin dye bath (second dye bath)
  • Rubber gloves, stainless steel spoons
  • Water
  • A way to heat the pots, I just used my stove

a. Washing the cotton

1. First as explained in this post I skeined up the yarn.

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Next, I washed the cotton yarn to remove any lanolin, spin oil or other debris still present on on it. You can’t see it in this picture, but my washing water turned yellow! A very needed wash it appeared…

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

b. Dyeing cotton with onion skins

1. In the case your yarn has dried before getting to this step, you have to soak it first in  water again. In wet yarn dye distributes itself much more uniformly. About half an hour of soaking is usually enough. If the yarn is still slightly wet, you can skip to step 2.

2. In each of the dye baths, I have put 2 skeins of cotton and made sure to completely submerge all yarn. The picture below shows the yellow onion bath on top and the red onion skin one on the bottom half.

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. I let the cotton simmer for about an hour in the dye bath. Next, I let it cool down in the dye bath overnight. The picture below shows how the cotton looked next morning.

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Rinse the yarn off with lukewarm water, add a dash of vinegar kitchen to fix the color. Rinse as long as necessary until the water runs clear. Remember to put on rubber gloves, if you do not want to stain your hands! Then you can squeeze the water out of the dyed yarn and hang to dry.

And this is how my cotton looks like after it has completely dried up:

Dyeing cotton with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

On the left 2 skeins of red onion skins on un mordanted cotton, and on the right yellow onion skins on again 2 skeins of un mordanted cotton. The red onion dyed yarn is now some sort of brownish cream. The yellow onion dyed yarn turned a pinkish cream. All in all, not a very dramatic difference.

I must admit being a tad disappointed with the result of my dyeing cotton with onion skins experiment. These colors give me unpleasant associations with old underwear, the type of color that, makes me look like I just crawled from underneath a rock. Was it because I used a second dye bath? An unbleached yarn? Or perhaps because I didn’t mordant the cotton beforehand?

I really don’t know. One thing is sure though: there will be a next experiment sometime in the future overdyeing this cotton!

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14 Jun

tutorial: knit rick rack rib in the round

Knit rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

I’ve written it before in this tutorial on how to knit the rick rack rib flat: sometimes a less boring finishing of a project than plain old 2×2 rib is just what the doctor ordered. In this post, I’m going to show you how to knit rick rack rib in the round.

As with the flat worked version of this stitch, the characteristic zig-zag texture is obtained by the knitting the stitches in a different order than they appear on the needle. Rick rack rib worked in the round is knitted as a multiple of 3 stitches.  The main difference with the flat worked version is, of course, that there are no WS rows when working the round.

In short, the instructions for this stitch worked in the round consist of the following 2 rounds:

Round 1: *Purl 1, skip the first stitch, knit in the back loop of the second stitch (do not slip this stitch off the needle), knit into the front loop of the first stitch and now slip both knitted stitches of the needle; repeat from * to end of the round.

Round 2: *Purl 1, skip the first stitch, knit in the front loop of the second stitch (do not slip this stitch off the needle), knit into the front loop of the first stitch and now slip both knitted stitches from the needle; repeat from * to end of the round.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 to the desired height.

How to knit rick rack rib in the round step by step

Round 1
1. Purl 1 stitch.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Skip the first stitch and insert your needle int the second stitch on the needle in the back loop.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Wrap the yarn around the needle as usual…

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. … and pull through to complete knitting this stitch. Do not slip this stitch off the left-hand needle just yet!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Knit into the front loop of the first stitch that you skipped in step 2.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Then slip both knitted stitches from the needle. Do you see how the 2 stitches combined slant to the left?

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 the end of the round.

Round 2
8. Purl 1 stitch.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

9. Skip the first stitch and insert the needle as if to knit in the second stitch on the left-hand needle. This can be a tad fiddly!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

10. Twist the right-hand needle so that is behind the left-hand needle and wrap the yarn around.

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

11. Next pull the yarn through, but do not slip this stitch off the needle just yet!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

12. Knit the first stitch that you skipped in step 9….

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

13. ….then slip both knitted stitches from the needle. The 2 knitted stitches combined in this round produce a right-slanting result!

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

14. Repeat steps 8 to 13 to the end of the round. And this is how to knit rick rack rib in the round!

On the outside of the work, it will look something like this:

Rick rack rib in the round - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

In case your project ends with rick-rack rib, you can bind-off after row 2 by binding off in purl 1, knit 2 pattern.

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05 Jun

dyeing wool with onion skins

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

I read that onion skins, both the red and the yellow variety can be used to dye wool or other protein based fibers pretty well. I’m very curious on the colors this will give and have therefore spent the last couple of months saving onion skins. I want to try out dyeing wool with onion skins!

Gathering yellow onion skins proved to be not that much of a problem. Red ones, on the other hand, were, because we appear not to be that much into eating red onions. Anyway, onion skins were saved and I’m ready to tell and show you what I did!

Materials

Collecting the required materials is obviously an important step. In my experiment, I wanted to use yellow and red onion skins in separate dye baths to see what differences in color that would yield. To make this possible I collected the papery, outer skins of the onions. I stored these in two separate paper bags, one for each color. It’s important to store the skins in a breathing container, otherwise, any moisture still in the skins may cause everything to mold.

Also, mordanting also has an impact on the resulting color, so in each dye bath, I wanted to have 1 mordanted and 1 non-mordanted skein of yarn.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

To make this possible I used the following materials:

  • Wool yarn, 4 balls of 50 g each
  • Pieces of waste yarn to tie up the wool into skeins
  • Detergent (without enzymes)
  • 33 g yellow onion skins (for dyeing 100 g of wool)
  • 33 g red onion skins (for dyeing 100 g of wool)
  • A mordant, I used my leftover mordanting solution from my madder dye experiment
  • 2 stainless steel pots
  • A sieve
  • Rubber gloves, stainless steel spoons
  • Water
  • A way to heat the pots, I just used my stove

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

a. Washing the wool

First as explained in this post I skeined up the yarn and washed it to remove any lanolin, spin oil or other debris still present on the yarn.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs
b. Mordanting

Mordanting of the wool is usually required with natural dyeing to ensure that the wool fibers are all opened up so that the dye can penetrate into the fiber. With onion skin dyeing this is however not really needed. Mordanting does have an impact on the resulting color though.

This is the reason I mordanted 2 of my 4 skeins of wool with an alum mordant. As written above, I used the leftover mordanting solution from my madder dye experiment. This time though, I didn’t leave it overnight at room temperature, but let it simmer on the stove for an hour.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

c. Preparing the dye baths

1. An important step in dyeing wool with onion skins is of course preparing the dye baths. For each of the dye baths, I put 33 g of onion skins in the pot together with 2 L of water. This I let simmer on the stove for an hour.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. After the full hour had passed, I used the sieve to separate the onion skins from the dye bath. The colored liquid was then returned to the pot, minus the onion skins.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Here you see a picture of the resulting dyeing solutions. It’s a tad hard to see because it’s just so dark, but the yellow onion one is a dark orange. The red onion skin dye is a dark red.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

d. Dyeing the yarn

4. In the case your yarn has dried before getting to this step, you have to soak it first in water again. In wet wool, dye distributes itself much more uniformly. About half an hour of soaking is usually enough. If the wool is still slightly wet, you can skip to the next step of this tutorial.

5. In each of the dye baths, I have put a skein of mordanted wool as well as a non-mordanted one. I made sure to completely submerge all wool. The picture below shows the yellow onion bath on top and the red onion skin one on the bottom half.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. I let the wool simmer for about an hour in the dye bath. Next, I let it cool down in the dye bath overnight. The picture below shows how the wool looked next morning. Do you see how dark the red onion skin dye bath and the yarn in it (bottom part of the picture) has become?

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. Rinse the wool off with lukewarm water. Rinse as long as necessary until the water runs clear. Remember to put on rubber gloves, if you do not want to stain your hands! In this picture, only the yellow onion skin dyed yarn is shown.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

8. Then you can squeeze the water out of the dyed wool and hang to dry.

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And this is my result from dyeing wool with onion skins, after the skeins of yarn have completely dried:

Dyeing wool with onion skins - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

From left to right: red onion skins on non-mordanted wool, red onion skins on mordanted wool, yellow onion skins on non-mordanted wool and on the far right yellow onion skins on mordanted wool.

The mordanted colors are more bright than the non-mordanted ones. It really surprised me though, that red onion skins give green yarn!

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12 Apr

how to work the knit and garter stitch

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

In this post, I’m going to show you how the knit and garter stitch is worked. The knit stitch is the basis of most knitting stitches and therefore often the first one beginning knitters start with. When knitting a flat piece in the knit stitch only, you get a fabric in what’s called “garter stitch”. Usually, a piece knit in garter stitch will be shorter and wider than the same amount of stitches and rows worked in other types of stitches. Garter stitch has a wonderful texture, is very squishy and elastic and best of all: it lies flat when knitted back and forth! Truly a wonderful stitch to have in you knitter’s tool box

In this post, I’ll show you how to work both the basic knit stitch and the ins and outs of garter stitch when worked back and forth (flat). Working garter stitch in the round also involves purling and will, therefore, be addressed in a different post.

Working the knit and garter stitch back and forth step by step

1. I’m starting with a number of stitches already cast on. What you see here, is done with the knitted on cast on.

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. To start, take your second needle and insert the tip into the stitch with the needle under your main needle. Insert at an angle so your needles cross as pictured.

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Hold the crossed needles together, take the yarn connected to your ball and wrap it around the bottom needle. Begin by going around, and then over. Depending on your knitting style this can be done with either your left or your right hand. The end result is however always the yarn wrapped around the needle as pictured.

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Take the bottom needle and bring it back through the stitch pulling the yarn with it.

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Now slide of the original stitch you inserted your needle in (step 2) and tighten the yarn a bit. In the above picture, you see the original stitch on the right of the second needle. You have now knit a knit a stitch!

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you’ve worked all stitches on your main needle. The second needle which now has all the stitches on it looks something like this:

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. Now switch the knitting needles around: the needle containing all the stitches becomes the main needle and the empty one becomes the second needle. I know I could also call them the left-hand and right-hand needles, but this could become confusing for those holding their needles differently.

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

8. Make sure your yarn is behind the needle and again follow steps 2-5 until you’ve worked all stitches on your main needle. The second needle now again has all the stitches on it:

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

9. When switching needles again, you can now see the characteristic ridges of garter stitch starting to emerge:

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

10. When I’ve knitted a couple of more rows we have a small swatch of garter stitch fabric! And this is how to work the knit and garter stitch.

How to work the knit and garter stitch - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Tips & tricks

  • Garter stitch comes out in ridges and each ridge is 2 rows. To know how many rows you’ve knit you can just count the ridges and then double the number.
  • Garter stitch looks the same on both right side (RS) and wrong side (WS) rows. There is, however, a trick to determine what side you are: Did you see in the picture with step 1 above where the yarn tail from casting on was? With the first row, I knit (which is usually called the RS) the yarn tail was on the bottom left. This means that every time I have my knitting on the main needle and the yarn tail is on the bottom left, I’m about to knit a RS row. You can of course also use a stitch marker or safety pin to see easily which side is what.
  • In this tutorial, I showed you how to work garter stitch by working knit stitches on every row. By purling every row, however, you also get garter stitch!
  • If you want to work in multiple colors, you should know that in garter stitch, if you switch colors on a right side row, there will be a line across the wrong side where you can see the loops of stitches connecting. This can, of course, be a design feature. If you don’t want this line visible, make sure to start the new color with the RS facing.

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29 Mar

the knitted on cast-on

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

The knitted on cast-on is a very strong and reasonably stretchy cast on to start your knitting project with. It’s the cast on I use most often because it is just so easy to do. Personally, I wouldn’t use it for a knitting project that would be blocked heavily. For all other applications, though, it makes a very nice edge. Think for example of edges of garments, non-lace blankets etc.

This particular method is also great for the beginner knitter because it is basically the knit stitch that is used to cast on. In this post, I’ll show you how to do it!

The knitted on cast-on step by step

1. Take a length of yarn from your ball of yarn.

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Make a slip knot….

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. ….and insert the needle into the upper loop and tighten the slip knot onto the needle. This is the first stitch. Make sure to leave enough on the tail of the yarn to weave in later.

It is also possible not to use a slip knot and just loop the yarn around the needle for your first stitch, thus avoiding the knit in the corner of your work. For the sake of this tutorial, however, I’m going with the slip knot version.

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Take your second needle and insert the tip into the stitch with the needle under your main needle. Insert at an angle so your needles cross as pictured.

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

5. Hold the crossed needles together, take the yarn connected to your ball and wrap it around the bottom needle: go around, and then over. Depending on your knitting style this can be done with either your left or your right hand. The end result is however always the yarn wrapped around the needle as pictured.

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

6. Take the bottom needle and bring it back through the stitch pulling the yarn with it in a loop.

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

7. Now transfer the new loop from the bottom needle to the other needle and tighten the yarn. You have now cast on a stitch!

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you have reached the desired amount of stitches on your needle.

Knitting the knitted on cast-on - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And that is all there is to it! The knitted on cast-on looks like this after a few more stitches have been cast on.

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18 Jan

dyeing with natural dyes: part 4 – dyeing!

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

This post is part 4 in a series in which I tell you all about what is involved in dyeing wool with natural dyes. In the previous steps, we have already washed our wool, mordanted the yarn and prepared our dye bath. Now it is finally time to dye!

The steps to go through are as follows:

a. Washing the wool
b. Mordanting
c. Preparing the dye
d. Dyeing your wool

As with mordanting, you can dye either warm or cold. The end result may differ between the two methods, it is a matter of experimentation to see what you like best. The advantage of hot dyeing is, of course, that it is relatively fast. After about an hour in the hot dye bath you’ve already got result. However, it also uses much more energy. That’s why I’m using the cold dyeing method in this example.

d. Dyeing yarn!

1. In the case your mordanted yarn is dry, you have to soak it first in water again. In wet wool dye distributes itself much more uniformly. About half an hour of soaking is usually enough. If the wool is still slightly wet, you can skip to step 2. If you intent to have a more random coverage, than by all means do not pre-soak your yarn of course! Freedom in variations is one of the nice things about dyeing yarn yourself.

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Put the mordanted wool in the pot or pots with the dye bath. Fill if necessary with a little water to completely cover the wool. Stir gently if necessary to get the wool well into the dye bath.

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Let the wool soak about 24 hours (or longer if desired) in the dye bath. An hour more or less does not matter very much. You can dye your skeins of wool in varying tints of the same color, by removing them after different numbers of hours in the dye bath.

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. I have removed my skeins of wool after respectively 12, 16, 20 and 24 hours in the dye bath to see how the differences turn out. On the left is 12-hour in the dye bath, on the right is at the 24 hour mark.

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Rinse the wool off with lukewarm water, add a dash of vinegar kitchen to fix the color. Rinse as long as necessary until the water runs clear. Remember to put on rubber gloves, if you do not want to stain your hands!

5. Then you can squeeze the water out of the dyed wool and hang to dry.

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And this is how my wool looks like after it has completely dried up:

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

As you can see there is a difference between 12 and 24 hours in the dye bath. However, four hours between the skeins is apparently too short to see a lot of difference between successive skeins. Learned something!

The second dye bath

The above coral pink color I obtained by allowing my wool to soak in the first extract of the madder, the so-called first dye bath. To see if more pink shades were possible, I made a new dye bath containing the same madder by soaking them again for one day. In this dye batch I then soaked another mordanted skein of wool for 24 hours. And this lovely blush-colored yarn was the result:

Dyeing yarn with natural dyes - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Lots of fun to dye with plant-based dyes! I will definitely do this more often and am already saving up onion skins for my next natural dye project!

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11 Jan

dyeing with natural dyes: part 3 – the dye bath

Dyeing with natural dyes - preparing the dye bath, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

This post is part 3 in a series about dyeing wool with natural dyes. This part is all about the various steps in preparing the dye bath.

The steps to go through are as follows:
a. Washing the wool
b. Mordanting
c. Preparing the dye
d. Dyeing your wool

Today we are going to make the dye bath! In this experiment I’m going to dye with madder. Below I want to tell you some more about this first.

Madder

Dyeing with natural dyes - preparing the dye bath, a tutorial by La Visch DesignsMadder (Rubia tinctorum) has been used as a dye for many thousands of years. The reason? It is one of the most light-resistant red dyes of natural origin. It was and is used for the coloring of textiles and leather. In the fifteenth century, the Netherlands was the main producer of the madder. Particularly in Zeeland there were many fields of madder plants in the 19th century. At least until synthetic dyes became available.

The plant is about 60-90 cm high and has small yellow flowers. Below ground are the rhizomes, which can go as deep as  50-100 cm. The roots are the part that is of interest for dyeing. Madder is harvested about three years after planting, because only then the roots are big enough. After drying, the roots are ground to small pieces or powder.

c. Making the dye bath

In order to dye  with madder root, you need about 25-50 g of powder per 100 g of wool. The precise amount depends upon the desired strength of the dye bath. For my wool (weighing in at 200 g dry weight) I will use a total of 80 g of madder powder. Here are the steps I followed:

1. Weigh your dye stuff, powdered madder root in my case.

Dyeing with natural dyes - preparing the dye bath, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

2. Put your dye stuff in an old bit of pantyhose or make a “tea bag” from it by other means. You want the dye stuff  in it to have adequate space to absorb moisture and to release its dye to the water. The dye stuff “tea bag” makes it easier later on to remove it out of your dye bath. It also has the great benefit of not having to remove any pieces or powder out of your wool.

Dyeing with natural dyes - preparing the dye bath, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Put the dye bag in a glass jar and cover with boiling water. I understand that madder provides a brighter shade of red when using “hard” water. Do you have soft water? Then add some chalk in the form of calcium carbonate to your dye bath.

Dyeing with natural dyes - preparing the dye bath, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Allow the dye bath to soak overnight. This is how mine looks after one night of patience:

Dyeing with natural dyes - preparing the dye bath, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Now it’s finally time to dye! More on this in my next post.

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04 Jan

dyeing with natural dyes: part 2 – mordanting

Dyeing with natural dyes - mordanting, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

This post about mordanting your fiber is part 2 in a series in which I tell you all about what is involved in dyeing wool with natural dyes. I guide you through the various steps and take you along with a natural dye experiment.

The steps to go through are as follows:

a. Washing the wool
b. Mordanting
c. Preparing the dye
d. Dyeing your wool

Today we are going to mordant the wool we washed in the previous step.

b. Mordanting

Mordanting of the wool is usually required with natural dyeing to ensure that the wool fibers are all opened up so that the dye can penetrate into the fiber. Without mordanting the dye adheres less well and the resulting color is less bright and colorfast.
There are several possible mordants: alum (potassium aluminum sulfate), chrome (potassium dichromate), copper sulfate, iron (ferrous sulfate), and tin (stannous chloride).

Each mordant has a different effect on the outcome of the dyeing process. Iron for example will “sadden” or darken colors, bringing out the green shades. Because alum is, when compared to the others, much less polluting and releases no harmful vapors during processing, I use it in this step-by-step guide.

1. The amount of mordanting agent to use depends on the quantity of wool that you want to dye. Typically, alum is used between 8% and 20% of the weight of the wool (dry weight!). I start at 15% and have 200 g of wool, therefore I use 30 g alum. (I know that the photograph shows 31 g, have corrected the weight after making the picture!)

Dyeing with natural dyes - mordanting, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Tartaric acid (“cream of tartar”) is sometimes used as an additive when mordanting with alum. As I understand it, it can brighten the colors. Use at approx. 7% of the weight of fiber together with 8% alum. In this example, I however do not use it.

2. Dissolve the alum (and, possibly, tartaric acid) in a glass jar or stainless steel pan of boiling water. Use enough water to fully submerge your amount of wool.

Dyeing with natural dyes - mordanting, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Add the wet wool to the pot. This may be immediately after washing. If your wool has dried between washing and mordanting, let it soak in water for about half an hour first. Adding dry wool to a mordanting or dye bath may cause streaks in your fiber.

Dyeing with natural dyes - mordanting, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Many instructions for dyeing wool indicate to keep it all warm at the simmering point for more than an hour. That may indeed be the case, but you can also get good results if you let it cool completely and then allow to stand overnight. This cold mordanting takes more time, but much less energy and therefore has my preference.

4. After mordanting, the wool must be rinsed.

mordanting_4

5. Next you can directly proceed to dyeing the wool, or (if the timing is not quite right) hang your wool to dry. Once mordanted and dried, simply store the wool until you are ready to dye.

Dyeing with natural dyes - mordanting, a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Now it is time to proceed to the next step: preparing your dye bath. More on this in my next post!

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21 Dec

dyeing with natural dyes: part 1 – washing the wool

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

Dyeing wool with food coloring like Easter egg dyes is of course a lot of fun and very easy to do. Lately, however, the possibilities of natural dyes intrigue me. Think of onion skins, indigo, madder, annatto and logwood.

In order to get good results with natural dyes, more steps are required, than with food coloring. In this series of posts I will guide you through the various steps and take you along with a natural dye experiment. Before I proceed I must tell you that I am by no means an expert in this area. I’m only sharing what I have learned in my own experiments!

The steps to go through are as follows:

  1. Washing the wool
  2. Mordanting
  3. Preparing the dye bath
  4. Dyeing your wool

Today we are going to discuss the preparations with respect to washing the wool. Of course, it is also useful to know what materials are needed!

Materials

Collecting the required materials is obviously an important step. However, this step I haven’t included in the above overview, because what will be required depends very much on the choices made with respect to your natural dyes of choice.

Things you will however (almost) always need are:

  • Protein (animal-based) fibers, such as wool or silk or cellulose (plant-based) fibers, such as cotton, linen, or hemp. Man-made fibers like acrylics can’t be dyed this way!
  • Pieces of waste yarn to tie up your yarn into skeins.
  • Detergent (without enzymes).
  • The natural dyes or dye material.
  • A mordant like alum. This is used to help the dye adhere to the fiber and helps in achieving bright colours.
  • For warm dyeing: A stainless steel or enamelled pan which will not be used for cooking anymore.
  • For cold dyeing: Glass jars in the number or volume big enough for the amount of wool that you want to dye.
  • Old nylons or other material to make a “tea bag” for your dye material.
  • Rubber gloves, stainless steel spoons.

a. Washing the wool

If you buy wool yarn, you may be inclined to dye without washing it. There is however a chance that there is a reasonable amount of lanolin, spin oil or other debris still present on the yarn. This makes it difficult for the dye to penetrate well into the fiber. This in turn results in your wool having less vivid colors and being a less colorfast.
For best results, wash first is the motto.

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

1. In this experiment I used Lettlopi, it is sold in the lovely put-up shown. However, when washing like this, the yarn will tangle beyond hope. Therefore it is wise to rewind first into skeins. I use my niddy noddy, but the yarn can of course also, for example, be wound around the back of a chair.

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

And yes, I know that my niddy noddy isn’t used “correctly” in this picture. I prefer using it this way because I like the length of the skein it gives. Fortunately, there is no such thing as wool-police!

2. To ensure that the skeined yarn does not tangle, tie it together with some waste yarn in several places. Do not tie it too tight, this may prevent the dye from fully penetrating the wool in those spots. I do this as follows four places:

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

The entire skein then looks like this:

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

3. Now we go on to the washing! Use water of at least 60 C or 140 F for best results. I use water as hot as it comes out of the tap. If this is not very hot in your case, add a splash of boiling water from the kettle or stove. Add a dash of detergent and then the wool. Use detergent without enzymes, since these would damage the wool. Strongly agitating the wet could felt it, but gentle stirring should not be a problem.

Allow the wool to stand for about 15 to 20 minutes, but don’t let it cool down completely. Any lanolin dissolved in the water could then precipitate again on the wool.

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

4. Now it’s time to rinse the wool with warm water. Do not rinse with cold water, a big difference in temperature from hot to cold can felt your wool!

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

After rinsing it is time to proceed to the next step: mordanting the wool. More on this in my next post!

Dyeing with natural dyes part 1: washing the wool - a tutorial by La Visch Designs

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14 Dec

tutorial: knitting the loopy bind-off

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

In this post I want to show you a variation of the i-cord BO: the loopy bind-off. With a regular i-cord BO you work directly over all stitches, binding them off. With the loopy bind-off loops of i-cord are made in between the stitches that are to be bound off. This does not only give a highly decorative edge, but is also a very elastic finishing. For this reason, this would be a nice BO to use on items like shawls, that have to be blocked quite aggressively for the best results.

Similar to regular i-cord (click here for the post about it!), this stitch can be knit over 3, 4 or 5 stitches. The more stitches, the fatter the resulting i-cord will be. The number of stitches also affects the loops in this bind-off: if you want to knit the i-cord for the loops over 3 stitches, you will need a multiple of 3 stitches to bind-off + that number minus 1 (ie 2 in this case).

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

To knit the loopy bind-off, you need a set of knitting needles, plus one extra needle in the same size. It can be worked on both the good and the wrong side of the work. In this example I’m binding off a small swatch in garter stitch.

The loopy bind-off step by step

1. Use the first 3 stitches on the left needle to knit regular i-cord. You can decide how long to make the cord, as long as it is equal for all loops. In this example I made cord with a length of 3.5 cm, which was 10 rows.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

2. Next, hold the needle with the i-cord stitches parallel to the needle with the stitches to be bound off:

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

3. Insert the third needle into the first stitch on the front needle, then immediately also into the first stitch of the back needle. Wind the yarn around the needle as usual, pull the yarn through both stitches and then slip off the first stitch of both the front and back needle. This is really very similar to working a three-needle BO.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

4. Repeat step 3 twice.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

5. Next, slip the 3 newly knitted stitching back to the left hand needle.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 until 3 stitches remain on the left hand needle. Next, repeat steps 1 and 2 once more.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

7. Work step 3 twice, you now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

8. Pass the first stitch over the second stitch, you now have 1 stitch remaining on the right hand needle.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

9. Repeat step 3 once more, followed by 1 repetition of step 8. All stitches are now cast off, you can now cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last loop.

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

This is how the the loopy bind-off edge will look like on the right side of the work:

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

And this is how it looks on the wrong side of the work:

Knitting the loopy bind-off - a tutorial by La Visch Designs - www.lavisch.com

Depending on the desired effect you can use either the right or wrong side of this bind-off.

And that is all there is to it!

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