Just finished teaching a children’s coop class on natural dyeing for my local homeschooling coop group. The kids were great, the timing went perfectly, and the dyepots were awesome. In all, it was four hours of fun work. I am very pleased, and more importantly, I think the kids had a blast.
I pre-scoured, weighed and divvied, and pre-mordanted (8% alum/7% CoT) all the yarn, so we were able to jump right in. Each child (and a couple parents) got a 20g mini-skein of yarn for each dyebath. There were 9 participants and 4 dyebaths. It was a lot of divvying and weighing and winding. I did it in my pajamas in the wee hours. Good times.
We began with an introduction to natural dyeing: types of fiber, dyestuffs, terms, safety, and a show-and-tell with fiber, dyestuff, and dyed samples. I even made posters with illustrations and everything. I love teaching. I wish I had more time to do classes like this.
We dyed with black tea (English Breakfast, 20 bags), yellow onion skins (.75:1), red onion skins (just under 1:1), and I sent them home with a bonus black beans solar dyeing project. They had fun stuffing pantyhose legs with onion skins and weighing and calculating the ratios. They really liked getting to wear the blue gloves and using the Grackle & Sun super-scientifical gear—you know, the pH meter and temperature probe. Who wouldn’t? Lol. The real winner, though, was the awesome presto-change-oh! trick with the red onion skins. The magic of a little washing soda. Red dyebath, green yarn. Show-stopper. :D
Quick scientifical aside here: My tapwater is pH 8.8. The black tea dyebath dropped to a 3.4. The yellow onion bath went down to about a 4.1. The red onion bath was made more basic with 1/4 teaspoon of washing soda which brought the pH up to 9.4, and that instantly turned the extraction green. But later (after about 45 min.), the dyebath was claret coloured again. So we remeasured the pH, and it was 3.5! But the yarn still took the green colour. Interesting that it dropped back down though. Will have to play with this again later. All the dyebaths were done as a combo extraction/dyebath deal. The yarn and dyestuff was added at the same time.
In the down time, we took a tour of my yard and learned about various native dyeplants and their proper names. We also took a tour of the Grackle & Sun DyeTable (aka, my studio space in the garage). They called it my dyer’s lair. Funny. And true. They loved all the different extractions and experiments going on. I love to see the inner mad scientists of 10 year olds being engaged and encouraged.
The best part was seeing how excited they got about their successful dyepots. Mad skillz little dyers. I think a couple of them are hooked. They’re already asking for more classes and planning what dyestuffs they want to try out next. Total success. :D
Sorry for the over-exposed picture. I didn’t dye any yarn myself today, and so I tried to snap a quick picture before the kiddos had to go. The green is actually greener, and the peach is actually browner. The yellow is pretty bang-on, though. I didn’t tell them what colour they’re going to get with the black beans though. I can just imagine the surprise when they see blue yarn. Good times. Love sharing this awesomeness we call natural dyeing.
Yellow Onion—Red Onion—Black Tea
Live happy, dye happy!