Today it is cold…-26 with windchill; tonight it will drop below -40 with windchill.
However, none of this is any reason to stop preparing to wash wool. In fact, the sooner the better. Temperatures will soon start to moderate. And when items are in stock you had better go pick them up or they may not be there – nor at the same price – tomorrow as remotely as we live. This morning I went to town to pick up two galvanized steel stock tanks…
I had thought to buy two 103 gallon tanks. However, when I stood there I realized how much more wool could be held in the larger of the two. So that’s what I bought. The smaller of them can be used either indoors, or as a pre-heated tank using a propane or electric heater to speed up the next cycle of either the washing or rinsing of the wool. The largest of tanks – 294 gallons (8′ long) – just seemed too large to be handy when it comes to keeping a supply of water at a constant temperature from end-to-end over the course of a half hour, or even to heat water to 160F beforehand. There are limits to practicality when it comes to working on an individualized scale.
Each tank is predrilled with a 1 1/4″ hole and drain plug…
I also bought a faucet and fittings for each tank at our local plumbing store…galvanized to match the tank and metal so that if the propane torch were to accidentally touch them they would not melt, like the plastic ones would which came with the tanks…
And I cut rubber gaskets from old inner tubes which I will mount on the tanks’ interiors…
…following up on the original dying I did with haskap, here is a comparison of washed fibre (right) against the original, unwashed fibre (left). i purposefully washed this patch with hot water and Tide detergent to see how badly this would damage the colour. It did remove the brilliance of the original red and turned it a brown-russet. Again, this is just a base-line washing with a table salt mordant….fyi…(again, full sun on snow)
This post tells about my first dyeing of llama fibre using Lonicera caerulea (haskap) berries. The llama fibre is unwashed white from one of my own llamas, and the berries are from the Tundra selection of University of Saskatchewan haskap grown in my own orchard.
I set up this test using two sets of four samples:
1 – The first sample remained dry and undyed as a comparison.
2 – The second sample was dyed, but was not soaked or mordanted beforehand.
3 – The third sample was prepared by water soak preparation only.
4 – The fourth sample was prepared using a traditional salt mordant (NaCl).
Two samples were prepared from each. This will allow a comparison from each treatment before and after they dry and one is subsequently washed after several days in order to determine colour-fastness of this berry’s properties.
This procedure allowed me to compare later on as a base-line comparison of the simplest sort.
Haskap is a newly cultivated berry that found its way to North America in the 1990’s and is now being intensively bred and selected for at the University of Saskatchewan. Haskap is the name applied to a superior selection of genotypes of Lonicera caerulea. These plants are commonly known as edible blue honeysuckles, and also have been marketed using the name of Honeyberries. Their berries come from flowers that can withstand a -7C freeze and still produce fruit, and the plant is still viable after winter temperatures drop below -40C. It is truly a northern plant and modern plant origins can be traced to Siberia, the Kamchakta peninsula, and the northern island of Japan. The berry’s meat itself is coloured a deep, rich burgundy; it stains anything with which it comes into contact a bluish-purple. The stain can be removed by citric acid. Otherwise it is very difficult to remove. I can find no reference to its use as a cloth dye using a simple internet search. We currently have almost 3,000 plants in our orchard, parts of which are just now coming into full production.
Since aluminum and iron can affect the the dying process (serving as mordants themselves), all utensils and pots used were made out of stainless steel.
The salt mordant (fixative) consisted of 1/16 cup of salt to 1 cup of water (1/2 cup of salt to 8 cups of water for larger batches).
The dye itself consisted of 1 cup of berries to 2 cups of water. This was brought to a boil, the berries crushed, the mix simmered for an hour with the lid on, and then strained.
The third and fourth batches of fibre were simmered for an hour before being dyed. The third batch was simmered in water alone; the fourth batch was simmered in the salt mordant.
All were then simmered in their own respective stainless steel pots with strained dye, again with devoted utensils.
These were then set out to dry.
Tomorrow I will wash one piece of each lot and see if the dye remains fast or not. These will serve as a baseline for future dyeing, particularly in relationship to mordants such as alum (potassium aluminum sulfate KAl(SO4)2·12H2O).