Lupine dyeing - Lupinus nootkatensis
I got some pretty amazing colours this summer. I went with my daughter to pick them down by the river where they grow in frightening abundance. We picked the darkest coloured flowers that we could find and stripped them from the stalks. We were careful to remove all leaves, because we didn't want too much of the yellow colour. After picking a few full plastic bags we went home and dumped them into a large pot and filled it up with water. The flowers simmered for over an hour and then was left to cool a bit before squeezing all the liquid from the flowers.
The liquid is a very deep wine colour, but the most common colour that comes out of the dyeing in a strong lime green. It never ceases to amaze me, the tricks that colour plays in this process. I used alpaca yarn to dye, skeins of 50g /1,8oz. I've been using that for most of my dyeing lately, since I want to knit a soft and comfy sweater. The Icelandic wool isn't necessarily what one wants next to the skin.
I added 10% (5 gr.) alum and 2% (1 gr.) cream of tartar, which I dissolved in hot water. And then proceeded to heat up the liquid to about 85°C / 190°F. I kept that temperature for an hour. When I lifted the yarn out of the pot, I was floored by the turquoise colour that I got. I have never seen a colour like that from Lupine, so I wasn't about to chance loosing by letting it stay in the dye liquid any longer. Therefore I didn't let the yarn sit and cool, but took it up and let it air cool before washing it out in clear water and some detergent. The second skein I put into the dye liquid turned a very pretty green, I added the same amount of mordant to the dye liquid. And finally I put in a third skein and got a lighter green.
I had to try to replicate what I had done and write down every step of the way and lo and behold, I did manage to get almost the same colour. I haven't tested it to see how lightfast it is. I guess I should do that. I did however see a shawl that someone had done with beautiful yellows from lupine and greens from lupine overdyed with indigo. And there was no sign of fading in that. However, I realize that the flower colours are the ones that are the most likely to fade in strong sunlight. But on the bright side, there has been very little sun here this summer, so that isn't such a huge problem anyway.