Tag Archives: Dye

How much color will 4 grams of Cochineal give?

31 Dec

Since it is too dry to collect lichen I’ve been pulling cochineal off of our opuntia cactus.

Cochineal web

Cochineal on Opuntia

Cochineal on Opuntia

We have prickly pear cactus.  I can’t be specific about the cactus, there are several kinds here in Blanco county, no thorns, thick thorns, long thorns.  I need to stare at the cactus more but here’s a link to all the types of cactus.  The Hibbitt’s family has given a good start on cactus id.

Meanwhile back to the cochineal….I’ve tried to leave cochineal on the cactus so I have some next year.  The first harvest yielded about 7 grams.  Figuring out how to harvest was quite amusing.   I went thru several tools.  Harley was very patient during his catwalks, while I scraped cactus, he sniffed for birds.

After collecting a small amount I was curious as to how much was “not enough”  so I started with 7 grams of fresh cochineal and web for 100 grams of substrate.  I used Lana D’Oro Cascade Yarn which in this case is 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool.  Yike, .07% dyestuff for the yarn, would it work?  AND would the superfine alpaca portion hold up to the dye pot?  Well, first I needed to extract the color.  After reading thru some references and listening to suggestions to blog readers I went with my basic path of least resistance and did it the easy way.  Dump the dyestuff into my rainwater and simmer away.  I did about 3 extractions after simmering and sitting and filtering.

I went with two skeins so I could see how they deep a color they struck.  They were premordanted with alum sulfate.  Within 5 minutes I had a nice bright fuschia tone.  Wanting to see if I could push it to a different red I added cream of tarter to one of the skeins and it went towards a deeper rose.  Now this is impressive  for just 7 grams of color.  I don’t particularly like pastels so next time I’ll try more fresh cochineal and try a light iron dip to push it darker.   I can always muddy these skeins with iron also.  Stay tuned!  Ah!  And the alpaca/wool mix held up well to a dye pot.  Live is Good!

Diospyros Texana Persimmon Smashing

13 Jun

Once again I am working with Diospyros texana Texas persimmon, Mexican persimmon, Black persimmon, Chapote, Chapote prieto member of the Ebenaceae (Ebony Family).

About two weeks ago I did an early pick. The persimmons were green and hard, not a hint of softness. They’ve soaked for two weeks so they are very easy to smash. I dumped them into my plastic tub & pulverized them as best I could. The meat and seeds were released and one can see the yellow dye. They’ve gone back in the jar for another week’s soak and then it will be time for some dyeing.

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Other branches have already been weighed down by the persimmons’ weight OR broken by raccoons starting their tastings early. John and I trimmed those and I’ve started another jar soaking. To my eye and feel it still looks early for good color but one just has to test to understand the color window!

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Time to harvest persimmons

5 Jun

Time to harvest & soak the persimmons! This is something I can do with my left hand. My friend, Bettes, has encouraged me to paint warp skeins while I go thru my shoulder rehab. Wheels are turning!

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2011 Colors from My Valley

24 Sep

Here are the results if 2010 gathering & growing and 2011 dyeing. Lots of details on my old blog http://www.debmcclintock.com/Debmcclintock/Debs_Dyepot_Blog/Debs_Dyepot_Blog.html

I’ve done 5 scarves from all the color samples. The toughest thing was combining the colors so each scarf showed off it’s colors. The project started as a dye sample project, not a finished product project so I had a real challenge in pulling the colors togeather so they did not clash. BUT I did find out the minimum amount I needed to get great colors so next year I’ll plan bigger skeins.

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