Color studies III

Published on Monday October 23rd, 2006


Sunday was the first day of my plant-dyeing course at Abundant Yarn. These skeinlets (prickly buckeye fruits for scale) were dyed with cochineal (ground up cactus-eating scale insects, yum yum), osage orange, chamomile, indigo and logwood. This first day was just an introduction to the natural dyes, a chance to practice mixing them and experimenting with color combinations. Over the next two Sundays we’ll each dye about two pounds of yarn – enough for two sweaters – so I’ve been experimenting with the different possibilities. I pulled out these five…


… because they reminded me of the colors Elizabeth Zimmermann describes using for her Chainmail Sweater in the Knitter’s Almanac. I have such tiny quantities of each that I can’t do much more than make a wee swatch for fun, but I’m hoping there’s enough to knit a little pair of wristers using one Chainmail pattern repetition. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I think I’ll do a bunch of the terracotta with different shades of indigo (I should be able to get a very dark blue by handpainting with a thicker indigo mixture), cutch (a mellow creamy buff, like a cocker spaniel), and maybe a little madder/cochineal true red with an eye to a Fair Isle yoke sweater. So can I get you to vote?

Option A: Terracotta body; indigo yoke patterning with red/buff accents.

Option B: Indigo body (perhaps a slightly greener-turquoise shade, if I pre-dye the yarn with pale-yellow myrobalan before it goes in the indigo vat); terracotta/red/buff yoke.

Option C: Suggest your own combination – I’ll have two sweaters’ worth of yarn, after all. I’m open to suggestions for pattern #2 as well.

On your mark, get set, vote!

19 Comments to “Color studies III”

  1. britt Comment Says:

    Option B

  2. minnie Comment Says:

    i like option b myself, lol. there’s a lady here who does a lot of natural dyeing, and she says that if you use logwood with water that has a high iron content, it will turn grey. i’ve been tempted to do anexperiment and gather water from different areas and see what they do.

    sounds like fun to me!

  3. gleek Comment Says:

    i like B as well. i’ve always been a fan of darker sweaters though! 🙂

  4. Laura Comment Says:

    Terracotta body with indigo and buff yoke!

  5. Lisa Comment Says:

    I say option B. I think that indigo would be a great shade on you. This dyeing class sounds like SO much fun!!

    P.S. Started Wuthering Heights. It’s taking me a while to get used to the excessively long-winded language of Victorian England…

  6. Nonnahs Comment Says:

    I vote for Option A. I think the indigo with red/buff accents on the yoke will really pop against a terracota body.

  7. Lauren Comment Says:

    I’d go with option B. The colors are gorgeous.

  8. Katie Comment Says:

    I vote for option A for YOU because I think it would suit you very well. And it would be nice for autumn. Those colors are all splendid, though! It sounds like you are really enjoying your class.

  9. Michelle Comment Says:

    Option B. Eek — cochineal! I used to see that in strawberry soymilks and some candy…

    Those are beautiful colors you’ve got there.

  10. Jessica Comment Says:

    I like option B. They both sound lovely, but the possibility of the blue/red yoke on the A looking “patriotic” would scare me. I live in fear of being mistaken for a Republican. 😉

  11. Jenna Comment Says:

    They all turned out to be really rich, beautiful shades, so any combo will probably turn out well. I’m going to vote for option A because I think wearing bright colors in winter helps us ot keep our spirits up.

  12. john Comment Says:

    I’m SO jealous.

  13. joy Comment Says:

    option A is good for fall… option B is good for winter. either way, both combos look great on your tone. either way – you have enough for TWO sweaters, right? ^_~

  14. Ingrid Comment Says:

    I vote option B.

    PS the ball arrived today…I can’t wait to get back to knitting Suzette but my second thesis (re 1st PhD students thesis) is due next week and I may throw myself out a window first.

    Soooo do you want my yorkshire tweed leftovers or a surprise….

  15. Katherine Comment Says:

    Oh my, how fun! I’ve been wanting to work with natural dyes forever. What a cool class. I might be moving to Portland in a few years, so I’m looking forward to all the yarn shops!

  16. brooke Comment Says:

    I like A, mainly because the indigo yoke sounds really pretty.

  17. Marie Comment Says:

    I’m going for B as well – I love those colors. Is dying with natural dyes much more involved than acid dyes?

  18. Color + Design Blog / Unusual Color Wheels Found in Life and Art by COLOURlovers Pingback Says:

    […] This Yarn Skeinlet color wheel features dyes made of cochineal (ground up cactus-eating scale insects), osage orange, chamomile, indigo and logwood. It was created by Sarah of the Blue Garter blog: […]

  19. angelarae Comment Says:

    I say option B. I am partial to blue and the colors you dyed would look just lovely with indigo. Can’t wait to see:)