The other night I was making a salad for dinner and had to set aside various chunks of spinach and a lettuce mix. Our fridge isn't set correctly so we tend to get warm and cold pockets. Since these had been shoved to the back they had been frozen and thawed more than once and ended up slimy and not useable. As my pile grew, I grew more and more irritated. It was such a waste! And something easily fixed. I didn't want to just toss it so as I continued to make the salad my mind went crazy figuring out what juices I could put the better stuff in and still be tasty. That's when my moment of genius hit! Green juice! Natural fiber! I had dye! I hurried and finished what I was doing, cleaned up and set to work.
That, dear readers (going clockwise), is a pot of tea (it had been simmering for a long time by the time I took this picture, a pot of spinach, and a pot of spring greens mix lettuce and spinach.
The tea one I have done before. For some reason doing raw fiber, it takes longer to exhaust. By the time this picture was taken that pot had been on the stove for at least 3 hours. I'm glad I had patience for it though because I ended up with a much deeper brown than I expected to get (even after rinsing). What I do when tea dying (I have yet to find a good set of instructions I like) is combine water and vinegar in a pot and dump in lots of tea bags. I don't pay attention to what kinds go in but in this case it was an entire box of Pau de Arco. Then I bring it to a boil and then turn it off and let it cool. Once cool I stick my fiber in (sometimes I presoak and sometimes I don't regardless of if it's yarn or fiber...this time I didn't) and bring it to a boil slowly and then slowly reduce it down to a simmer. I have yet to get a clear exhaust though. I think it's just a tea thing.
The next pot is the spinach. When I started juicing everything down I started with the lettuce mix and got a dark green. I wanted to lighten it upa bit (I figured I'd get more of a brown if I didn't) and added a bit of spinach. I wish I hadn't but only because quite a bit rinsed out. My color is still nice but I think had I done the entire bag of spinach on this pot there would have been more depth. Same process as the tea (minus the initial boil and cool down). I dumped the juice into a pot of water and vinegar and stuck in my fiber. I brought it up to a boil and then down to a simmer (as always, if you need to get the fiber moved around POKE it, do not stir as you could agitate it and end up felting....it's agitation that felts, NOT just heat!). The fiber sucked this up fast! In fact, I had reached exhaustion before I was even to a boil. I did go through all the steps though so that the heat would set it.
The next pot is the spring greens mix. Same as the spinach. The fiber sucked it up as well.
Ater I let all the pots cool down I rinsed and was surprised at how fast the greens rinsed clear but how much they lost and long the tea took. The tea lost the least amount oddly enough. The two greens are similar in color when combed out but spun up they are just different enough that it makes you squint and turn it over to see if you are imagining it. I bet if they were combed together you could get a somewhat heathered effect. Spun together I think all three would look very nice. I did spin my test pieces and all the colors are nice and even (i.e. no sudden dark splotches) and none comes off on your hands (or spindle).
So there you have it. I am either very frugal :) or think a bit too much about dyeing fiber. Either way it was very fun and interesting. Oh and a plus was that my house DID not smell any worse than wet sheep. You couldn't smell the greens or the vinegar. You smelled more of the tea than anything else. I am wanting to dye with more foods but that will have to wait (mostly because I need to wash more fiber). This was a huge experiment. When I googled it that night I wasn't finding anything. All I was getting was how to grow certain plants specifically for dyeing. That's not what I was going for. Luckily, this isn't rocket science so I just winged it and it turned out very well (I think). I have more pictures of the individual pots but blogger isn't behaving for me. I don't have any of the dried result but I will get pics of that soon enough. I didn't want to take too many and then post them all since these actually went to someone else. Hopefully they like it all as much as I do. :)