Solar Dyeing Experiment, Part 1

Solar dyeing yarn was something I was only peripherally aware of until Knit Scene magazine did an article on it in their Spring 2013 issue featuring the work of Caitlin ffrench (on Ravelry as ffrench).

I love the idea of solar dyeing especially the parts were you don’t have to have large pots of heated water and I can use plants from the garden.

One of the delays between feeling inspired about solar dyeing and actually trying it out was the difficulty I had finding some reasonably priced half gallon to gallon sized Ball or other canning jars. Amazon sells anniversary special gallon sized Ball Jars but they are $24 each and I didn’t want to spend $50 on just the two jars for my solar dyeing experiment. Other online glass jars of that size ranged between $10 and $15, which is closer to my price point but none of the options indicated how tight they sealed. I was afraid those jars would be like the larger glass jars I found at Target that did not really have a seal. I looked at Ace Hardware, Target, the grocery stores, Home Depots without success until yesterday, when I went into Homegoods (probably my favorite home goods store, I always find the best stuff in there). Homegoods has glass jars with a rubber seal that locks into place and a cute little chalkboard on the front for labeling. And the price? They ranged from $3 to $6 per jar. I ended up getting two half-gallon sized jars for $3 each.

The next step was to get some yarn to play with so I went over to Lovelyarns and purchased two skeins of natural-ish 100% wool. The first skein is Ballybrae wool by Brunswick (Here’s a link to the Ravelry page, the yarn is listed as discontinued) and the second skein is Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted (Link to manufacturer’s page). .

For dyeing material, I collected marigolds from the garden and the skin from two onions. The marigolds because I wanted to have something from garden and the onion because the magazine used onions in the example and I loved the colors that came from onion skins.

I followed the fairly simple instructions in the Knit Scene article and put the two jars out on the porch yesterday afternoon. The plant material immediately started changing the color of the water. By Sunday morning, you could actually see the color starting to seep into the wool. My front porch is really sunny and warm so I’m hoping the dyeing process will work really well.

Here’s a picture of the jars right after I finished putting them together on Saturday:


And here’s a picture of the two jars on Sunday evening:


I’m really excited that the color can already be seen spreading through the jar. I can’t wait to see the color progression over the next few days to weeks.

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