A year and a half ago I started Niger Hollyhock seedlings in hopes of dyeing with them. I ended up with about six plants, three of which blossomed, one that was incredibly happy, sent up many stalks and bloomed proficently (you can see them in the garden here). For months I collected the blossoms and dried them on my desk. Late last week, fed up with a desk full of dried blossoms, I decided to take the plunge and make up the dye. I had high hopes that this would yield me a beautiful blue, and it did, sort of. As you can see, I got two different colors, a blue on the left and a, well, what color is that? Greige? That’s because I divided the dye up into two batches. Half of my yarn was mordanted in alum and that was what took on the blue-ish color. The color on the right came from being dyed in a copper pot, which also acts as a sort of mordant (mordant being what makes the wool able to properly absorb the hold onto the dye.). What was most interesting is that at the last moment I dropped in a bit of left over yarn from a previous project that was 80% wool & 20% silk into the alum dye bath. That yarn soaked up the dye just beautifully! From now on, I know to use a mixed wool/silk yarn for any dyeing I do.
Already the blue yarn on the left is on the needles being knit into new fingerless gloves to replace my roadkill gloves.
85 dried niger hollyhock blossoms soaked in water overnight. Premordanted half the yarn in alum. Divided the dye into two, one half going into a non-reactive metal pot, the other into a copper bowl put over a simmering pot of water. Placed presoaked yarn into the pots as the dye water was heating up. Left all to simmer for about two hours. Turned heat off, let sit together for another hour, took the yarn out and let it sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it (as instructed by Harvesting Color) and letting it dry.