Friday, July 30, 2010

Trying Wine-Dyeing

The other night I was having a glass of wine after work. The bottle had been opened a few days prior, was half-full, and the wine seemed just on the verge of being totally un-drinkable. So I settled down on the couch, put on The Simpsons, poured myself a glass... and almost immediately fell asleep.
So, here I was this afternoon with some sour old wine. boo. I decided maybe it would be fun to try using said wine to dye some yarn. I couldn't really find any information about it online but I felt like I'd heard about people doing this before so I just decided to go for it.

I pulled out some nice worsted weight un-dyed 100% wool yarn. I got this yarn at a good price so I didn't mind if I got a funky result.

I also had this big container of mordant in the craft room. Someone gave it to me a while back but I haven't tried it yet so I decided to use this as well. This mordant is alum, it's one of the least toxic mordants, this is lucky for me because I accidentally breathed some in when I opened the container. Seriously.
If you're wondering what mordant is, you can click here.

And the star of the show, the gross old wine! I was ready to begin.

I dissolved some alum in a bowl of hot water and added the yarn. I let this sit for about half an hour, then strained out the liquid.

I poured all the wine over the yarn and then added just enough hot water so that all the yarn was submerged. I let this sit for about an hour but it seemed like the color wasn't really taking. I transferred everything into a pot and cooked it on the stove until it was just about to boil. I was hoping the heat would help set the color. After letting the yarn cool a bit I rinsed it and hung it up to dry.
Anyway, the final result of this little project isn't very exciting:

The yarn on top is the wine-dyed skein. The one on bottom in un-dyed. They're different, but not very different. I don't mind the color, it's sort of a really pale dusty lavender, but I think I'll probably dye it again to get something darker.
After doing a bit more research I found out that I should have boiled the wool with the alum and also some cream of tartar. Then I should have let it dry before dying it. But I didn't have any cream of tartar and I also wanted more immediate gratification so, even knowing what I know now, I probably would have done the same thing anyway.
So in the end, I had a skein of yarn that was a slightly different color than it had been a couple hours earlier and a kitchen that smelled like wet sheep and hot wine... I probably won't wine-dye again. At least not for a while. But I also don't see myself not finishing a bottle of wine again any time soon so I suppose that's okay.

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised the wine-dyed skein is still so pale...I know when I've spilled red wine on my own light-colored clothing the effects have been sadly more dramatic. ;)