At the Burrow DyeTable # 8: Pokeweed Racemes, Take 3
Here is the third and final installment of this first round of pokeweed raceme dye experiments. I think the racemes are so beautiful. I’d say “otherworldly”, but it’s hard to think that of anything born out of Missouri Ozark clay and rock.
Dyestuff: Pokeweed (phytolacca americana)
Parts used: The racemes (the part that holds the berries)
Source: My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, my friend Debbie’s yard, and the Farm
Yarn: Mountain Meadow Cody, 100% wool. I mordanted a little differently this time, opting not to follow any instructions other than those given by the seat of my pants. I decided to use more vinegar, and pretty much did a 1:3 ratio of white distilled vinegar to water. The reason for this is that in lieu of using straight acetic acid, I’m hoping the higher acid content will help with the fastness of this dye. So I soaked 100g of wool yarn in a pot of 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water. I heated the pot to 190F and held it there for an hour. Then I let the yarn sit and cool in the mordant bath overnight. The starting pH at room temperature was 3.1. At 188.2F, it was 3.0.
Ratio of dyestuff to fiber: I only used half of the yarn I mordanted for this particular dyebath, so 50g total. I’m not sure of the exact amount of racemes. I didn’t weigh them out, as this was done on a whim. But I can tell you that when I pulled them all from the bucket, they easily weighed a pound. I’m sure most of that was the vinegar that they absorbed., so I’m going to say maybe 100g starting weight, and next time I promise to weigh them out.
Extraction: Chucked the racemes into a bucket and covered them in white distilled vinegar. Put a plate on top to hold them down. Left them on their own for a couple months. As you can see, these didn’t leach out the way the other ones did. I think had I put much more vinegar in, they would have. They were pretty compacted in this bucket.
Dyebath: After the recent success with the cold pokeberry dyebath, I knew that I had to try a cold raceme dyebath, too. I strained out the racemes through a colander and reserved half of the liquid for the cold dyejar (the other half was used for the hot dyebath). I added the premordanted yarn and brought the dyejar inside the house, because I was afraid it might freeze and crack if left outside. I kept it covered with black cloth (actually, just a black shirt—sorry if that is less poetic) to block out the sunlight. The yarn sat undisturbed for 9 days.
WOOT!!! Slam dunk and SCORE! Cold dyeing with poke is the way to go.
Fascinating, don’t you think? That such totally different colours could come from the same plant, the same part of that plant, on the same yarn, and with the same mordant—just because of a difference in the specific dyebath process. Very cool. So does anyone want to hazard a guess as to why the cold process put the red on the wool when the heated baths didn’t? Next I’ll put samples from these 3 up for a lightfastness test. Will be interesting. Here’s to curiousity and experimentation!
Live happy, dye happy!