12.14.2008

Dyeing with Black Walnuts

My neighbor has a stand of Black Walnut trees in her yard and was sweet enough to gather up a bushel and drop them off in my greenhouse.

It’s a clear case of one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure. While they litter her roadway, for me they’re a favorite choice to dye wool. I love the creamy coffee color, it’s lightfast and no mordant is necessary. This very natural shade is a great choice when knitting for men. And I understand they are also good in
cooking.



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And it’s so simple: 1. Soak the hulls for
 a couple of days.
2. Pour the black water in a large part of water and simmer for an hour or so.
3. Toss a few skeins into the pot, cover and simmer until you reach the desired shade – about ½ an hour to an hour.
4. Turn off the heat and let it all sit in the pot overnight
5. Next morning fill sink with water, add a glug of Dawn and toss in the wool. Gently swish the wool through the water to remove any hull pieces and rinse out excess dye bath
6. Rinse until clear.
7. Squeeze out excess water, roll in towel and then hang to dry.
You can freeze the husks for later use or reuse the dye bath, although you will get lighter shades.
If you don’t have a generous neighbor you can always
mail order.

3 comments:

Tonyia said...

I've got a yard full of these every year. I've always wondered how to dye with them, and now I know. Thanks! (BTW, gorgeous wool!)

julie@greatwool.com said...

Tonyia,
You are lucky! You can use the hulls for dyeing and the nutmeat for cooking. Here's a little more info for you regarding harvesting for the dye process. I never did much more then toss them in a canning jar and ignore them for a few days.
http://basketmakers.org/topics/tutorials/walnutdye.htm

ali said...

Mmmm, that creamy coffee color is gorgeous! Beautiful dye job.