I spent this past week up at my family cottage in Eastern Ontario. It's on a small treed island on a quiet lake with a couple cabins and no electricity or running water. I had been wanting to use the outdoor fire pit for natural dyeing since last year and since I was going to have some time alone up there this seemed like the perfect week to get started. Just me, the dog, an open fire, and making some colour. Sounds good to me.
I brought a bolt of hemp cotton canvas, as well as some pieces of cotton voile. I also brought up my packs of dye extracts from Miawa and my reference book for natural dyeing called 'Wild Color'. It's a really useful book that lists most natural dye sources with plenty of information on each. It describes how to grow and harvest the plants and how to extract the dyes. It also provides a colour chart of the range of colours that can be obtained with different mordants or plant parts. Before using the purchased extracts I wanted to try dyeing with some of the local plants.

On the drive up I collected Queen Anne's Lace from the side of the country roads. They are in such abundance that it was easy to collect a large amount and obtain a strong dye bath.

The colour was a bright yellowy green on the canvas and a soft yellow on the voile.

My mom had given me a bouquet of coneflowers. They produced a pale yellow, but I didn't have enough flowers to get a strong colour for cotton, so I ended up adding an Osage extract to the bath for a stronger shade. I would like to try them again sometime with more flowers and longer soaking.

Another one that wasn't a big success was birch bark. It didn't provide colour because I was a little impatient with it. It was still the beginning of the week and I suppose I wasn't fully into relaxed slow cottage mode yet. If the proper part of the bark is chosen and soaks for a long time it can yield a range of pinks and purples.

When using the extracts I was able to dye a few colours a day, which also allowed for me to over dye and play with stitch resists. Some pieces were dyed in three baths- queen anne's lace, madder, and logwood- they have nice subtle variations of grayed purples and muted pinks.



I dyed a few small bits of the yarn I am using for my granny squares as well. The yellow is from the Queen Anne's lace and the two orange balls are from madder (furthest is one dye bath, closest is two). I wanted to add some yellow and reds to my squares, so these are perfect. They will also serve as a nice memory of this sweet and peaceful week, stitched up into the blanket I will make with these squares.

And I can't talk about colour and the cottage in the same post without mentioning the sunsets.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jenna,
Glad you had a great week away :)
Thanks so much for the ship squares of fabric - now I can start playing around with the charm squares and figuring out how I'm going to turn them into a quilt! So fun! Thanks again!!
Jen :)

Marshall Arts said...

this looks like heaven to me...such a wonderful way to spend a week.

Belinda [simple things] said...

Jenna - this is amazing!

Julia said...

This sounds and looks incredible! It's all so beautiful.

Julia said...

wow, this looks beautiful to just spend a week alone in such a wonderful place. And thanks for all the info about the dyeing! I had hoped to try some natural dyeing this year, but I'm not sure I'll have the time. I do have lots of marigolds, though and may just try a small batch. I'm definitely bookmarking this post for next year, though.

Artophoria said...

Nice posting..
Thanks for sharing, Jenna!
I would love to do this.. :)

lovers of mint said...

Superbe r├ęsultat et quelle patience ! Bravo

Alarm Cho said...

Hi Jenna, this looks like a lot of fun to me too. I love the colors that you got in our clothes in one of your pictures and I was wondering if there were other posts that show specific instructions to how to dye clothe and process the plants. Thanks!

Catarina said...

What a Beautiful range of colors and such tender shades. Will do gorgeously together. Well done you! How wonderful to be able to dye outside in the lake country, was it Kawarthas? Beautiful either way.