Experimenting With Walnut Dye

It's a little odd to be calling this "experimenting" when I still consider most of my dyes experiments. Granted, I'm getting a better understanding of dyeing in general, what I can expect from various plants and methods, but I'm still learning (and oddly enough, enjoying the unpredictability of it all.) After my last dye with walnuts, I saved the exhaust bath for "experimenting." Since I was running out of bare yarn and was never really happy with the result of the fennel dye (on a merino/silk blend,) I threw it into the pot of rich walnut juice. I also grabbed some white-ish yarn from my stash (seen on the left in the above photos.) Normally you should always pre-wet your yarn before dyeing it to ensure a more even uptake but since I was experimenting with one lone skein, I skipped that step. Which also means I skipped any mordant (which was fine considering black walnuts have enough tannin in them that a mordant isn't necessary.) And instead of just dunking it in, I poured the dye over sections of the dry skein for a variegated affect. Until the yarn is rinsed, the walnut color is such a rich brown and I wondered for a brief moment if I'd end up with a stark contrast between the colors. But I just as quickly remembered a lot of the color bleeds out (especially if you don't mordant or pre-wet the yarn!) In the end, after the rinsing water ran clear, I was left with the a beautifully subtle cream and pale caramel yarn you see above.

I personally love a subtle, soft, muted color palette. I'd never spend money on a skein of yarn in that pokeberry color for myself (maybe if I were knitting for a friend who likes bolder colors.) But oddly enough when it comes to my dyeing, I've aimed for that punch of color. I guess visually it was more rewarding and impressive to see such a rich color after my hard work. But now that I know I can get rich colors, I'm content to create softer ones.

While I was outside, making a mess, I also dunked some old doilies and a shirt in the walnut dye bath, as well as played around with painting on fabric. The results of the latter weren't what I was expecting and I definitely need to learn more about that medium before I share any results here. But, such is experimenting!