Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm still here and I'm still dyeing!

Man! I really fell off the blog wagon this Christmas! Sorry to disappear like that. Basically, I just needed a few days off to enjoy the holiday and relax my mind. Now I'm struggling to get back into the swing of things. After a couple gray weeks in the Phoenix area, the sun is back and that really helps me recharge. It also helps me dye wool because I count on the sun to dry my wet roving for me. So thank you sun for coming back!

The truth is I've barely done any work, but I did do one kind of fun experiment. You see, this is just our second year here in Arizona so fresh fruit picked right off the tree is still a wonderful novelty for me and my family. The fall after we moved here we planted two lemon trees, one orange and one ruby red grapefruit. The trees are still young, but the grapefruit and one of the lemon trees produced fruit for us this December. We also have a next door neighbor with two mature orange trees and he delivered a bag of oranges. My younger son is very enthusiastic about juicing the fruit and we have a great time.

This year after juicing the oranges, we had a large bowl of rinds left over and it seemed a shame to throw them away. I found a recipe for candied orange peel and my husband set about preparing the rinds. The recipe called for blanching the rinds several times to remove the bitterness. After each blanching, I drained the hot water and there was so much color in it. I started to wonder if I could dye wool with the blanching water. By the time I had the idea, it was too late for the oranges, but we still had lemon rinds. I just had to try out my idea, so we decided to make candied lemon peel too.

On the left is a picture of the candied orange peels just in case you've never see them before. They turned out really yummy with a great orange taste. On the right are the lemon rinds during the blanching process. In the middle is my dye pot with the lemon blanching water and some additional water so that it would cover the two ounces of wool I introduced. You can see it has a nice pale yellow color to it. So while I candied the lemon, I also dyed the wool using the same method I normally use only allowing it to steep longer.

In the end, the wool didn't pick up very much color. I really wish I had thought of the idea when I was working with the oranges because we had more orange peels and the oranges gave off a stronger yellow color. I think my results would have been much better. The lemons produced a nice pale lemon color, but I just don't think there was enough concentration to dye my wool. My ending result was a length of roving that looked pretty much like it did before taking the dye bath, but that's o.k., it was really fun trying.


Anonymous said...

I didn't have much luck dyeing with citrus rinds either. I think I just didn't have enough rinds though. My experiments with dandelion heads ended much the same way, too.

Jags said...

I bet it smelled yummy while you were dyeing!

I hear koolade dyeing is fun because it smells yummy when you spin the fiber, I'll have to try it sometime!

Are you experimenting with new colors for the shop? I would love to see what your imagination can come up with ^.^

Jenn said...

Hi guys! Yea, maybe citrus ring just are great for dyeing. LOL! I've never done the Koolade thing, but A friend of mine has with really great results and the yarn did smell sweet.

Tomorrow will be my first day back to dyeing for real and I don't have a plan in mind. Mainly I just want to fill up my shop!!! One of my favorite ways to design new colors is to pick one tone and then see how many different shades of it I can create. Sometimes it's the most subtle tweaks that produces the coolest results!

I want want to continue to add more variety to the colors and fibers I offer as well as how I sell them. Even though I sell by the ounce I often have people asking for smaller amounts. I'm going to try to offer more samplers this year.

Jenn said...

Citrus RIND, I mean. :D

Angie said...

I've never had candied citrus peels. Sounds yummy, but also very time consuming. Unfortunately, I think I'm not ambitious enough in the kitchen to try it.