Monday, 31 May 2010

Walnut Catkins

The walnuts just seem to be going on - I said this would be a recurring theme for the year! The catkins have fallen with a vengeance - there is a huge carpet of them all around the trees, but I collected about a kilo to experiment with.

The first thing I noticed was that although they looked very green as they were falling, they quickly oxided to a browny black. I was a bit concerned that this would affect the colour as Ethel Mairet is so adamant the with the husks they must be green, however the only way I could avoid them going brown would be to collect them before they fell - I may try that next year, but certainly for this year want to see what the crop is like and what happens at each stage.

I always do the same thing when experimenting ( unless I have read something specific like need to soak in alcohol) it gives me a good overview of how a dye works. So to start with I soaked them in cold water for a couple of days. As it was so hot and sunny last
week they actually started to ferment a little, getting "frothy" at the edges of the pan. Then I brought them up to the boil and simmered for about an hour. I let them cool down and "rest" overnight. They were then strained and the fibres added, heated to simmering and kept there for an hour. After cooling to hand hot the fibres were rinsed and put out to dry. (You can see the colour of the dye liquid underneath the collander in the pan.)

I am really impressed with the colour - it's more golden than it looks in the picture, really quite lush! I will certainly be collecting them again next year and using lots of them. I dyed a kilo of "Blarty" with them and then a T shirt and then a 300g hank of wool. The exhausts were quite pale, but very pretty!

I am now scrabbling round collecting the little nuts that have fallen in the wind over the weekend - waste not want not!!!


Ladka said...

Thank you for posting your experiments! I enjoy reading everything you post on walnuts. They are such a rewarding dyeing material!

MaryTheKnit said...

Sounds like your walnut tree is going to be like a pig - you are using everything but the squeak!