Winter Wild Crafted dyeing usually means playing with dried materials gathered in warmer months. I recently pulled out some chopped and dried rhubarb root. Rhubarb root can be dug and divided in early spring. Click here for information on dividing and cultivating rhubarb. Below is a picture of ne of my rhubarb plants that is overdue for division. It is hard to see in this picture, but there are at least 10 stems. You can click on the picture to see it larger. Root that isn't replanted can be chopped for dyeing. Use it fresh or dry it and saved it in a cool dark spot for later use.
I soaked the dried root for a day, overnight is fine. Use plenty of water. I find it can be hard to get good extraction in a small amount of water. Bring it up to a simmer and cook for an hour or so. I drain the liquid and pour it through a coffee filter. I use a reuseable gold filter. The chopstick is for stirring so it keeps flowing. I do not use this for coffee however. Once something becomes a dyeing tool it stays away from food forever.
The extract is then placed in a larger pot with mordanted yarn and brought to a simmer. I hold it at a simmer for at least 30 minutes.
This time I did something I don't usually do. I tossed some yarn in with the drained rhubarb root and some fresh water. I got good color but the bits of root were hard to get out of the yarn. The bits were like clingy little bits of spongy cork. I won't do that again!
The fun comes after dyeing! Rhubarb root is a dye that is sensitive to ph shifts. A high ph will move it from a warm yellow tan to an orangey tan. Long exposure to a high ph will harshen wool so I decided to wait until after the yarn was dyed. The easiest way to raise ph is with ammonia. I can't tell you how much as I use a high strength ammonia and check the ph of the bath. I was looking for a ph of about 10. Soak the yarn in the ammonia solution for 5-15 minutes or until the color shift is complete.
Can you see the bits that are still yellow and haven't shifted to the orangey color yet?
The picture below shows the "corky" yarn with and without the ammonia after dip.
The extract dyed yarns came out lighter. I had no idea how strong the extract was. Next time I'll use a stronger concentration.
Here are the yarns dyed wit the rhubarb root bits. Both are Sierra Sock, without ammonia dip on the left and with ammonia dip on the right.
All of these yarns are darker and richer in person. They were tricky to photograph.