Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday Fiber Arts Dyeing wool with Virginia Creeper

I have been wanting to dye alpaca fiber in virginia creeper for quite some time. Last week as I was walking a friend's dog along the road I found large vines of the native plant. I gathered a small plastic bag full and brought it home to test out.
Viriginia Creeper is a woody vine native to North America. It is a five leafed plant with toothed edges. It shouldn't be confused with poison ivy which has 3 leaves and smooth leaf edges. In the fall the foliage becomes red and purple berries emerge. The berries are poisonous to humans. The vine is prolific in Michigan and I easily found it right here in Ada. I have been waiting to dye with this plant for some time. I gathered only the leaves and chopped them into 3" pieces. The entire plant can be used, but I just used leaves this time. I had premordanted my alpaca fiber from White Lace in alum and the assistant cream of tartar. I placed the leaves in a big pot and filled it with cold water. I let the contents come to a simmer on low heat and remain at that temperature for 2 hours. I let the dye liquor come to room temperature. I strained the dye bath and pitched the leaves. I then wetted my alpaca roving in water the temperature of the dye bath and added the roving to the pot. I heated the bath/fiber to simmer and let it do a magical transformation for 1 1/2 hours. I turned off the heat and let the dye bath cool and sit for about 24 hours. I was going to leave it longer, but someone pulled the car into the garage and knocked the pot over! I then rinsed the roving in room temperature water and then a vinegar rinse to set the dye. I draped my beautiful salmon-pink alpaca roving over a hanger and let it drip dry in the laundry room. I didn't dye enough fiber to spin any large amounts of yarn, but I think I can make some wool balls or run some pieces through my homemade hackle with rose gray alpaca. Yum.


  1. You got such a nice color on that fiber and I really like the shine of it. Maybe next time you could put a big orange flag-on-a-stick on your put when you put it in the garage, LOL

  2. The color is beautiful! I bought a natural dye kit at Fiber Fest this weekend. I am going to experiment with a couple of friends. I'm excited to try with plants growing here on my farm.

  3. Yes. It is fun. That is what I use..mostly plant that grow wild on my farm. And I agree with you Ally about the stick in the pot!! I should know better than to leave things out!