Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Hope you haven't forgotten the walnuts!

Last Autumn I managed to collect some of the walnuts in their husks and put them to soak. Ethel Mairet recommends they soak for 12 months, however as I had a request for walnut dyed linen I thought I'd risk trying the "fresh" stuff out!

There were about 500g of the husks (many with their walnuts inside, it was easier at the time to just throw the whole thing in the pan to soak) the pan was filled with tap water a lid put on and then left under the bench to fester merrily. When I took the lid off they actually hadn't festered at all - no mould, no smell other than soggy walnut in fact I was quite impressed. I expect that they froze along with all the other dyebaths in December and January, but other than that they have been left to do their own thing.

I boiled them up and simmered them for about an hour, then left them to cool down overnight. Strained the liquor off and added 250g of mordanted linen plus 2 silk caps. Boiled and simmered again for about an hour and then left to cool. To me the yarn and caps look really dark an rich (picture left) , You can imagine how surprised I was to see how they dried! Not what I expected at all! Maybe Ethel has something in her idea of leaving them for 12 months! I have another pan soaking, which will definitely not be touched before October! (I should say that the very pale hank on the top of the pile was put into the exhaust liquor - so that was deliberate, it's the silk caps and hank underneath I thought would have stayed "chocolaty"!

What I also don't know of course is whether the water has had an effect on the walnut dyeing - it was tap water that was put in the pan, not rainwater.


Ladka said...

I am surprised at the results too! Whenever <I dye with walnuts I soak them for a day (if more it's only for lack of time), otherwise I do all the same way as you describe. What I get is: dark chocolate on unmordanted wool, dark chocolate on mordanted or unmordanted silk, GREY to brownish-grey on unmordanted cotton (forgot whether I also ever tried mordanted cotton) - all in the first dye liquor, not the exhaust liquor. And I always use tap water (we're supposed to have rather hard water supply).

Joei Rhode Island said...

I've had the same results with unmordanted wool and silk. Added a pinch of iron and viola! Nice browns on both. Deeper on first dips.

Anonymous said...

try to collect the husks as early as possible, they are better with unmature nuts. august is a better time than autumn for collecting.

Anne said...

We have a Walnut tree outside The Knit Studio and some of our Knitting Group dyed up some great colours using the husks.
Beautiful - i love nature and the things it provides!