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My first outdoor dye project

I don’t know how to write this post. I was supposed to be camping this past weekend but didn’t for reasons that were not on me - and I'm pretty sad about it. I would share the letter I wrote to the Commissioner of State Parks in Minnesota, but I doubt anyone wants to read that much. I will say, however, that I will not be returning to Split Rock Creek State Park in Minnesota anytime soon.

I know that there are so many bigger world problems than mine so I’m going to move on to the fun I had once I stopped pouting about not getting to camp.

On Saturday we spend some time at a park. I set up a kettle to dye some yarn. Right there – out in the wild – over a campfire. And a new hobby (and possible moneymaker) was born.

For real.

I have been researching dying with natural extracts in different ways and last week I went out and spent a little money on a few things (a lot of the items, I already had in my kitchen as extras). I found a 30 qt stainless steel stockpot, a thermometer (which ended up not working – a $10 item), tongs, measuring spoons, and mordant and dye was purchased from A Verb for Keeping Warm.

Step one was to mordant. I did this step at home. I didn’t have to scour the yarn as I purchased some ready to dye bare wool from Bluprint (more on how I feel about the yarn later). It is called Cloudborn Fibers, a fingering weight yarn; 80% superwash merino wool and 20% polyamide. The mordant was aluminum potassium sulfate and I used the recommended weight to water ration that I read in this book.

I left everything in the pot to cool and put it in the pickup truck. I was on my way to camp and dye in the great outdoors over the campfire! How exciting!

Continuing with the steps I am learning from various places, I created they dye using Quebracho Red Extract. Quebracho is produced from the heartwood of the Quebracho tree (Schinopsis lorentzii). It primarily grows in the jungles of the Gran Chaco in Paraguay. Quebracho has many uses from dye to a natural remedy for stomach issues. Google it! It’s rather interesting.

In goes the yarn and up goes the fire! Once the dye bath hit the correct temp, we let it simmer for just over an hour. It was fun watching the dye exhaust and the wool change shades. It was also fun to get questions from people passing by. One of the reasons I love camping – the people you meet.

I decided to wait and take it out of the dye pot when I got home. I rinsed and hung it to dry.

A few things to note in my process: This was my very first time dying with natural extracts and over a campfire. I will be doing it again in a heartbeat. I would love to learn and learn and create and create and hopefully share my creations with others. It was inspiring work and my hubby got into it as well. I took good notes so I can see what things I might change for the future. The color I ended up with isn’t a color I would pick – but I know that many would. It’s a lovely shade.

I like the subtle hues of the natural dyes.

As for the yarn… I will not be ordering it again. I have used it twice now in dying and the first time was operator error – I used too much heat and it created a brittle yarn. But this time I know I had a handle on it and although I will knit it – it isn’t super soft. And the loft is lacking. That being said, I am on the hunt for a yarn that works well with the way that I am choosing to dye. And I know one is out there.

If you have any questions about where I got my materials or what other details I might have please reach out and ask! I love sharing information.

By the way - wen ended our day with burgers! Havarti cheese, balsamic glaze and arugula from our garden, nothin' better.

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