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Dyeing with Rhubarb

August 10, 2010

Left, 8/2 reeled silk  mordanted;                Centre, wool, no mordant;                  Right, wool, no mordant;

Rhubarb roots – 250 gm. , cleaned, chopped, covered with water, then simmered for an hour and left to cool overnight.  Next day the dye bath was strained and one skein wool added, brought to a bare simmer for about an hour.   I then left the dye bath sitting for about 10 days and was going to throw it out.  I remembered I hadn’t adjusted the ph of the dye bath so strained the dye bath again as it had a layer of mould on the top.   After adjusting the ph to aprox. 8-9  I added another skein of wool, simmered for an hour then added a pre-mordanted skein of alum, cream of tartar mordanted silk, turned off the heat and let it all sit overnight.   I was surprised at how much the colour changed with the ph adjustment and could see the dye bath colour change when I added the soda ash.

The silk has more depth of colour than the photo shows, but is so shiny it reflected more than the wool and is almost as dark.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2010 2:11 am

    That pale pink silk is lovely – reminds me of rhubarb fool (yum!)


  2. August 11, 2010 3:14 am

    Wow, just a totally different color with the ph adjusted. Now, are all colors stable?
    Love the silk, looks like such a delicate shell color. Beautiful.


  3. August 11, 2010 7:11 am

    Those are gorgeous colors! Who knew a rhubarb root could do all that!?



  4. Evelyn Oldroyd permalink
    August 11, 2010 8:07 am

    Cally – Rhubarb fool does sound yum – have only had apple.

    Theresa -I think the colours are fast because of the natural mordanting qualities of rhubarb – oxalic acid – but will do some testing. I now have a pot of leaves simmering just for use as mordant.

    Sue – I had no idea the roots would give these colours and will now do some modifiers on the yarn – iron and a copper penny pot to see what else happens.


  5. August 12, 2010 6:35 am

    What lovely, delicate colors! I can just see a soft vest out of the rose color-nice!


  6. August 13, 2010 2:54 am

    Beautiful colors! And happily, I planted some rhubarb plants last spring!


  7. August 14, 2010 8:46 pm

    Gorgeous colors and a great reminder to check Ph balance – whew. Thanks.


  8. Kids In Love Collective permalink
    June 11, 2012 6:30 pm

    Reblogged this on Kids In Love Collective and commented:
    After taking a class called “Natural Dyeing in the Kitchen” I’m getting more and more interested in natural dyeing strictly with food products that are left over from consumption, like my favorite avocado skins. The idea of choosing between bodily nourishment and dyeing is always a hard one, I just want to eat those beets! So leftover plant material that would be composted really appeals to me as a sustainable and delicious source of dyes. I want to try rhubarb leaves because of their high tannic acid content which is great for celluose and plant fibers. While doing some research I found this lovely post on rhubarb dyeing. So pretty! Must try soon.


  9. Nick permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:55 am

    Please- which is the acid one – pink? and is the alkaline one yellow?


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