When boiling beets for canning or pickling about 3/4 of the beets are covered with water and boiled until they are tender. Yesterday it required over an hour of boiling. This produces a rich red juice. Draining this from the stock pot we were able to bottles 6 wine bottles of scalding hot juice for future use in fibre dyeing. Old wine bottles work well – they are free, resilient to temperature, and are easily sealed and stored. We recycle old corks for this and use a mechanical corker.
A week ago I harvested two gallons of chokecherries from a massive hedge that we originally planted fifteen years ago and which now shelters a very productive give-away garden. The fruit hangs heavy this year; picking was a delight!
Yesterday I added the berries to a kettle and covered them with water, bringing them to a boil, and then simmering them for an hour. I crushed these and put them through a colander, collecting the juice. Steaming small sized wine bottles with their corks I then bottled the juice and will experiment with it for dyeing wool later this winter. It would have been easy to make more but until I know what it does it’s just best to not be too greedy.
Friends far to the south of us have told me that they have only a couple of weeks to harvest their haskap orchard before the berries begin to shrivel. A couple of days ago I took these photos in our orchard. We have several hundred plants which have not been harvested. While the berries do not have the same firmness as when they were first ripe, they are still juicy and flavourful and awaiting our final harvest and will be boiled down, perhaps even in the field, for dyeing wool later in the winter.
We also harvested a great amount of dwarf sour cherries and are interested in seeing how colour-fast these will be as well…
Juiced haskap produces a haskap sludge (top left), and a thickened juice upon refrigeration (top right). The results of using juiced hakap in the dye pot turned out to be exactly the same as having used berries, covered in water, heated, and strained.
The end product looked exactly like the skein third from the right.
Dye pot simmering…1 hour…then cooled…
Edible blue honeysuckle (EBH) berries have a dulled blue skin. This selection is called Tundra…
…but their interior is a scarlet colour. When picked by hand haskap does not bleed on its end (not so with honeyberries and non-varietal EBH). When mechanically picked using a plastic bat and child’s wading pool, there is some damage.
When processing the berry into juice or cooked for syrup and jam this damage does not matter.
We harvested seventeen gallons of Borealis haskap the other day. We collected a half gallon of juice that we will pasteurize and use for juice/dye from these seventeen gallons…
…we begin picking our haskap the end of the week. This year we will start to offer 100% natural haskap juice for sale as an animal fibre dye. Here’s our new site: Haskap Dye. Fun stuff! :)
Previous haskap/dye posts:
I have not found any recipes for dyeing wool with haskap other than the one I posted a couple of months ago. That post used table salt as a mordant and was based on the best information on dyeing with dark berries that I could find on the internet. I now have a couple of books (Adrosko and Duerr). These do not contain information on dyeing with haskap. But Duerr’s does have a recipe for dyeing with blackberries. Knowing from personal experience how blackberries can stain I decided to use this recipe as a baseline recipe.
Here’s what I did:
(1) Drain Mordanted Wool – Yesterday when mordanting I could not tell if the odour that hung in the air there was because the paint was burning off of the new propane heater, or was due to the mordant. After allowing the mordanted wool to cool in the mordanting bath overnight I removed the lid and could smell the strong presence of sulphuric acid (H2(SO4)). I drained the wool. Then I rinsed the wool several times with clean, soft water.
(2) Making Dye Liquor – Weighing my fabric, I matched that with an equal weight of haskap berries. Berries were covered with water, brought to a boil, then simmered (180F) for 30 minutes. This was then sieved and set to cool.
(3) Dyeing Wool – Once the haskap dyeing liqueur is cool, add premordanted fibre. Fully cover the wool with water. Bring the bath up to a simmer and hold it there for 30 minutes. Remove the dye pot from the heat. Remove the wool and set it aside to drain, wash with a pH-neutral soap, rinse thoroughly, hang to dry.
‘…you will find endless interesting projects where you will be able to work with both fiber and dyes from scratch. When making something with your own hands, you have the chance to reflect on modern culture, which typically relies on store-bought, mass-produced textiles.’
– ‘Making Slow Textiles’ in The Handbook Of Natural Plant Dyes, Sasha Duerr
When lovely woman tilts her saucer,
And finds too late that tea will stain,
Whatever made the Lady crosser,
What art can make all white again;
The only art the stain to cover,
To hide the spot from every eye;
And wear an unsoiled dress above her,
The proper colour is to DYE.
Coloring is one of the most delightful arts, also a most responsible branch of manufacture; and a good dyer makes a manufacturer wealthy, happy, and renowned; while a poor one brings ruin, bankruptcy, and misery; and not considering the fineness of the cloth or the faultless weaver, the color sells the goods.
No matter the perspective from which dyeing is discussed, in the end it all boils down to one, singular, powerful kernel…beauty. Humans can’t be blamed for their love of colour; to love colour seems to be in our genetic make-up.
In 1856 William Henry Perkin accidentally discovered a lavender dye synthesized from a coal-tar derivative and the age of synthetic dyes was born. Synthetic dyes are standardized and not dependent upon the variances of seasons, climates, growing conditions, or individual plants. Looking at the colour of the clothing that you, the reader, is wearing, we take all of this for granted each day as we decide what colours to choose; it wasn’t always that way. But it seems now that the circle has come fully ‘round again, and natural dyes are making a come-back as their very uncertainty and the uniqueness of each batch allows for variations that are personal and unprecedented. And not only that. But the individualism of dyers and their locales are again becoming appreciated regionally. That rather than the unconscious dependence upon the ecological, social, and economic destructiveness of global corporate manufacturing, transportation, and marketing systems, real people can organize to provide grounded local goods.
I never thought that my own desire to live a sustainable, grounded, humble, healthy, and simple life would lead to this…
which would lead to this…
which would lead to this…
Yesterday I got this load for free…
It seems that the Canadian agricultural corporate giant has decided that it’s not worth picking up in our area, so friends have been burning it for years.
Chalk one up for localized agriculture I guess. :)
Mordants should never be handled with impunity; these should be used outdoors. Alums contain aluminum. And while aluminum is ubiquitous in our environment, exposure to it should be minimal. It is quite controversial that potassium aluminum sulfate (potassium alum) is often found in baking powder (not baking soda). Exposure to boiled aluminum mordants should not be carried on indoors. Additionally, aluminum sulfate alum produces sulphuric acid when mixed with water; you don’t want to be breathing this indoors.
To the end of mordanting fibre I bought an outdoor cooker yesterday – $85. It is just the burner, and is rated at 66,000 BTU. The flame is regulated by physically adjusting the air flow; this is done by physically turning a piece of aluminum (!) that covers a hole in the cast burner next to the input hose. It worked well on its initial burning; I can’t wait to try my first batch of fibre in it using both potassium alum and alum sulfate…
Seeing that the constituency of pots make an impact on the result of the dyes I decided to pull a couple of large aluminum pots out of storage, see how they do, and then to dedicate them to this in some fashion (we certainly didn’t want to use them in contact with any foodstuffs before this, or hereafter now either).