Monday, 17 July 2017

Solar Dying with kids in the British Summer Holidays

We just got back from the Wild Weekend at Avon Heath country park, where I spent two busy days teaching knitting, spinning and chatting with visitors. I mentioned to numerous interested parents that Solar Dying was a safe option for kids. SO I thought I had better write a post on it!

Equipment You will need

  1. A glass jar with a lid (coffee jars are perfect for this)
  2. Dye plants (see list of suggestions further down)
  3. A rusty nail
  4. Vinegar
  5. Water
  6. A loose skein of wool or some roving or fleece (must be a plant or animal fibre)
 Once you have collected some dye plants, smush them with a spoon or break them into pieces. Add about 4 tablespoons of vinegar (this doesn't have to be too precise) and fill the jar about 3/4 s full of water, drop in your rusty nail. Add half your dye plant stir and pop your wool in on top then add the other half of your dye plant. You can even layer different dye plants and your skein of wool to create multicoloured yarns (although results for this can be variable as the colours will leach into each other with time) Put the lid on and find a sunny spot to place your jar in the garden, windowsill or if you have one the greenhouse. let the sun work its magic for as long as you can but at least 2 weeks, you can check on the progress of your jar to see how strong the dye is. This is a great project for over the summer holidays. The hotter the sun and the longer you leave it the stronger the dye. Once you are happy remove your wool and place it on a clean surface like a plant tray to dry out over night (if left a long time these can get smelly so its probably best to do this outside on a good day. The next day give it a rinse in some cool water to remove any debris or pieces of dye plant stuck to the wool! hang it up to dry and and enjoy your solar dyed yarn, perhaps have a go at weaving it between some sticks or for older kids knitting, crochet or braiding. You could even make a pin loom from an old small wooden picture frame and more nails and weave some squares.
Blackberry dye results from the dye jar

Ideas for dye plants that are easy to find (although it is fun to encourage the kids to choose plants based on what they know stains and what colour they think it will make) :
Onion skins
Marigold flowers
Avacado seeds
Red cabbage
Oak bark

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