I have been having fun doing some easy solar dyeing using natural materials I gathered from my garden (cosmos in this case) or from our groceries (avocado in this case). I froze cosmos blossoms I picked from my garden last fall and solar dyed them for about 12 days in an alum and cream of tartar mono-mordanted bath (above is the exhaust of that bath where I have some yarn. Colors from my cosmos were quiet pale golden greens, but you can also get golds and pinks from different colors. I rinse the fiber after 10-12 days, then dry everything. Exhaust baths will sometimes give different hues and always paler hues. pH and mordant also affect the colors, as well as how much you heat it.
Pictured above are the cosmos-dyed wool in its final rinse and the lower photo is a display of cosmos-dyed wool (original bath), avocado-dyed wool and yarn (exhaust bath), and finally, my hand-spun yarn dyed in the original avocado solar dye bath. Search on "Solar Dyeing" at Mother Earth News website and you will find the general directions, then get some gallon glass jars from the local deli, some alum and cream or tartar, and collect your own natural materials to try out! I love the resulting soft colors that all go well with each other and our natural Shetland colors.
Jeanne Dukerschein loves animals and also has enjoyed lifelong interests in fiber arts, nature, and writing. In 2006, she learned to spin her own yarns and purchased her first Shetland ewe. Her poetry and fiber art, as well as her 20-year career as a freshwater biologist, carry common themes of nature, ecology, and