First Independent Dyeing With Haskap

haskap dye

From one of the recipients of our first batch of dye…

[JT from] the Manitoba Weaver’s and Spinner’s Guild kindly gave me a bottle of the dye juice.  Wonderful results!  I used 400 grams total of a combination of Shetland/Texel fleece, mohair locks and silk roving.  I continued to use the dye bath for subsequent fibres until it totally exhausted.  In [the] end I dyed roughly 1600 gams of fibre in lighter and lighter shadings.  Thank you for the opportunity to use this dye – I shall order more next summer.  – MH

…thank you, MH!

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Manitoba Weavers Guild

Two days ago we sent our first batch of dye off to our friends at the Manitoba Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild.  They arrived safely and will be distributed in a week at their monthly meeting.  There was no charge for this.  We firmly believe that if we benefit from something in our lives that our respective communities should benefit in some manner as well…and we have benefit from their knowledge so much as we are becoming weavers.  We are simply so grateful to so many of them…

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Haskap Dye With A Mordant

I have not found any recipes for dyeing wool with haskap.   I have a couple of books on fibre dyeing (Adrosko and Duerr).  These do not contain information on dyeing with haskap.  But Duerr’s does have a recipe for dyeing with blackberries.  Knowing from personal experience how blackberries can stain I decided to use this recipe as a baseline recipe.

Here’s what I did:

(1) Drain Mordanted Wool – Yesterday when mordanting I could not tell if the odour that hung in the air there was because the paint was burning off of the new propane heater, or was due to the mordant.  After allowing the mordanted wool to cool in the mordanting bath overnight I removed the lid and could smell the strong presence of sulphuric acid (H2(SO4)).  I drained the wool.  Then I rinsed the wool several times with clean, soft water.

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(2) Making Dye Liqueur – Weighing my fabric, I matched that with an equal weight of haskap berries.  Berries were covered with water, brought to a boil, then simmered (180F) for 30 minutes.  This was then sieved and set to cool.

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(3) Dyeing Wool – Once the haskap dyeing liqueur is cool, add premordanted fibre.  Fully cover the wool with water.  Bring the bath up to a simmer and hold it there for 30 minutes.  Remove the dye pot from the heat.  Remove the wool and set it aside to drain, wash with a pH-neutral soap, rinse thoroughly, hang to dry.

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untreated wool (top) – mordanted, rinsed, and haskap dyed (bottom)

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washed, mordanted, haskap dyed in full sunlight

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washed, mordanted, haskap dyed, and rinsed wool on drying rack indoors

Reed Lake, Chaplain, Saskatchewan – Mordants

In 2015 I was driving along Canada’s #1 highway and passed Reed Lake, near Chaplain, SK.  It is a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Sanctuary

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As I approached, there were very high winds and the horizon was obscured by the blowing of the sodium sulphate that is mined there…

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…and then when I got to the area that was blowing I experienced a total white-out…

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Once home I looked up what is mined there.  It is a 99% pure form of sodium sulphate, which is a non-toxic double salt, and can be used as an evener in fabric dyeing (however, it can be an irritant if not used with discretion).  Depending on the dye being used it can actually work to deepen/embolden the colour in the fabric as well.

I phoned the mining operation and enquired about where I might be able to obtain a sample or even a 20 kg. bag with which to experiment.