How the Pokeweed Dyeing is Going

Let me be clear, for those of you wondering if you can attempt this at home (me, too, at this point), very little of this color is coming from the berries. As you can see, I have quite a few green berries in there. But once some berries on the cluster turn black, there is enough red in the stem of that cluster to get color out of.

I know many dyers use only berries, but in Me vs. The Birds for who is going to get the ripe pokeberries, it’s not me.

So, I had been collecting poke parts and putting them in vinegar and keeping it in the fridge. Then I mordanted my wool in eight parts water to one part vinegar (I ended up using 12 cups of water and a cup and a half of vinegar. Plus a teaspoon of alum. I heated that all up and simmered it for an hour and then let it sit until it was room temperature. I also brought the pokeweek vinegar bath out of the fridge and let it sit until it was room temperature. Then I put the yarn in the bath and used the water/vinegar mix to top it off.

Last night I moved stuff around so the plant matter was on top and the yarn was on bottom. I have also been adding pokeberry clusters as they ripen on my weed.

I don’t know how long I’m going to let it sit for. I’ll admit that part of it is just based on smell. I don’t want another situation where I have a yarn so stinky I don’t know how I’ll use it. So, basically, I’m going to let this go until it starts to smell bad or until it gets a shade darker than I think is really beautiful.

I am very, very nervous that it will all wash out. Like, what is setting it, if not heat? But the black beans didn’t wash out. That’s a lovely blue. So, cold dyeing can be done. But, man, if this works, it’s magic.

If it works, I’m going to be really tempted to redye my blueberry and blackberry yarn using this method.

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