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Horsetail, Goldenrod and Golden Showers

The long weekend is winding down and the guests are slowly leaving. During the past 72 hours we have had 14 guys, roll through the house. I had earmarked this weekend for dyeing yarn, and forgot that we were entertaining. Rather than scrap the project, I took the opportunity to get the boys to take part in the dyeing process.  I pulled out a pot and asked them to pee in it.  

Without hesitation the guests were peeing in my dye pot.

Without hesitation the guests were peeing in my dye pot.

Urine has been used to clean wool, as a mordant and in the dyeing process. In the Shetlands, it is believed that when men were on their way home from the pub they would pee in pots sitting outside a Dye Maker's house. 

Freshly picked Horsetail (Equisetum)

Freshly picked Horsetail (Equisetum)

Equisetum, is considered a living fossil and reproduces by spores instead of seeds. It is one of the oldest plants on earth. We have them growing throughout the forrest and along the driveway to the cabin.

200 grams of Natural Wool

200 grams of Natural Wool

I soaked the wool prior to the mordanting process. 

Top left: Horsetail and mordant yarn simmering in a pot.

Bottom left: I added Goldenrod to the brew to enhance the colour.

Right: Removing Horsetail pieces from the yarn.

Love the colour and texture.

Love the colour and texture.

Mordant used: 60 grams of Alum, 15 grams of Cream of Tartar and a 1/2 litre of fresh Pee. Boil Pee and 2 litres of water. Add remaining Mordant ingredients and mix. Add 6 litres of water, yarn and simmer for 1 hour. 

Drain

Dye: Simmer 5 litres of water.  Add yarn and horsetail (4 fists full of chopped horsetail), cook for 1 hour

* After 45 min I didn't like the colour of the yarn so I added freshly cut goldenrod (two fists full) . The colour of goldenrod is very intense and slightly darker than the final yarn product.

Remove yarn from the pot, rinse in warm water and hang dry. 

Positives: Goldenrod and Horsetail result in a vibrant yellow, the dyeing process is only 2 1/2 hours, the texture of the yarn is incredibly soft, I was able to engage and expose a new group of guys to yarn dyeing.

Negative: the colour from the horsetail plant was too subtle,. I dyed the yarn just outside of the back door.  The smell of Urine was so strong, it seeped into the house. 

It was great to get my friends involved in the project. The smile on their faces when they saw the final product was priceless.

It was great to get my friends involved in the project. The smile on their faces when they saw the final product was priceless.

This article is in the category: The Cabin.


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