Dyeing my boots

Laura helped me dye the pieces for my boots the other day. She loaned me all her supplies and we decided to go with Black Walnut hulls for the outer boots (it makes a rich brown dye) and Cochineal for the inside lining (makes shades of pink). The colors I was thinking about earlier- turquoise and green- would have required multiple dye applications, for example, for the olive green, we would dye it with onion skins and then dip it in the indigo vat. I was getting increasingly anxious to see how these boots were going to turn out, so we went with what was simple. First, we mordanted the boots in an alum solution.
The vat has to be slowly raised to 200 degrees over the course of an hour, held at temperature for an hour, then slowly cooled. While that was cooling, we prepared the dye vats. We were using EarthHues concentrated dye extracts for the cochineal, so we measured that out in teaspoons based on the weight of the fiber. For the walnuts, I just dumped in a bunch of dried hulls. Since Laura has plenty, I didn't worry about using too much. It was incredible how the water was instantly black with the pigment from the hulls. We still let them simmer for a couple hours before adding the fiber to extract as much dye as possible.
When the vats were ready, we added the fiber to the pots and again slowly raised them to 200 degrees. With the big dye pots and my little stove, it's easy to keep them from heating up too fast- the little burners were slow to heat that much water. Almost instantly, the fiber started changing color. Laura showed me how you can pinch a little bit of fiber to draw out the water and get a sense for how dark the fiber actually is- it lightens a lot when you pinch it early in the dyeing. Here's the cochineal.
And here is the walnut bath.
I am so pleased that I remembered to dye extra yarn for seaming up the pieces and sewing on the soles- I almost forgot and had to dye them without the mordant, but walnut is a substantive dye, and you can dye without a mordant.
These colors are a bit off- the cochineal is not that blue. They took quite a while to dry, that's a lot of yarn right there! I had a hard time believing all that would shrink down to fit on my feet. More tomorrow....

1 Comment