Friday, September 19, 2008

Grapes as Dye

Who knew so many would have grape envy. These hardy Concord type grapes were here when I moved in eight years ago. I imagine that they are very old. I am in southern MN, considered a northern state by most. You even more northern folks might want to check, I know the U of Minnesota has come out with many northern varietals of grapes. There is a burgeoning wine making segment in Minnesota.

Rick asked if I have ever used grapes as dye. As a matter of fact I have.

This capelet was one of the first things I knit with my handspun yarn. The dark bands are natural rose gray alpaca. The purplish bands are mohair curls dyed with commercial dyes. The rest is made of white/off-white fibers (alpaca, merino, silk) dyed with grapes. I mordanted the fiber with salt, as per instructions found on a natural dyeing site. (Mordanting just means to prepare the fiber to accept dye. Depending on the dye, vinegar, alum, many other things can be used to mordant the fiber. Different mordants may create different colors with the same dye. I don't do a lot of natural dyeing, but that's the gist of it.)

This was made several years ago. When it started out, the grape dyed parts were a silvery, barely blue-gray color. I absolutely loved it.

As you can see now, it is a sort of icky splotchy brown-beige-dirty white color. I don't absolutely love it anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still wear it as it is incredibly warm, and keeps the chill off the neck, and looks great with a blue, purple or gray sweatshirt.

In my experience, grapes don't create a lightfast dye. This was that pretty silvery blue color for only a few months, if I remember correctly. I probably won't dye with them again.


Mare said...

I really like your chaplet, and i still like the color. Of course that is easy to say since i never saw the original shade the dye created....

LostInCO said...

That is very nice. It is too bad the grapes are not lightfast. The beige doesn't look bad, but I can imagine the lovely silvery blue color it once was.

cornbread hell said...

i absolutely love it.

Julie said...

A book: Dyes from Plants by Seonaid Robertson, ISBN 0-442-26974-9.

Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, a division of Litton Educational Publishing, Inc. - 1973.

Dyes from lichens, woad, safflower, and others described by the scientific method. Explains how to from A - Z. Includes dye recipes and dyes from grapes! A wonderful book!

Would be happy to send it to you! Maybe make a trade for a skein or two of your choice?

cornbread hell said...

speaking of you know about the cochineal beetle? very cool.

read about it on my son's web site: