Dying Yarn

    So, I’ve been doing my research and there are tons of websites you can check out if you want to dye your yarn. Here’s the thing, even though they are out there for everyone to check out I can’t just leave you guys with a gaping hole here. 

    In this day and age we talk about eco-friendly, hyper-allergenic, light resistant fading…the list really does have no ends. They also talk about then many different materials you can dye and turn into yarn. I’m going to focus this article on the first one because it covers such a broad array of topics and use wool because like with spinning its the most common and you can use either sheep or alpaca.  What does it mean to be Eco-Friendly and if it costs a little more is it still worth it? 

    Wool fibers consist of keratin proteins that are made of 18 amino acids, and these amino acids bring both free amino and carboxylic acid groups into wool proteins. The free amino groups existing in the proteins have been employed as main sites for interactions in acid dyeing of wool fibers, since the amino groups could form cationic amine salts under acidic conditions. Natural dyes are generally environmentally friendly and have many advantages over synthetic dyes. In recent years, there has been an interest towards the application of these dyes due to their bio-degradability and higher compatibility with the environment, as such, the demand for natural dyes is increasing day by day. Although vegetable dyes cannot replace synthetic dyes, they have several advantages over synthetic dyes with regard to health, safety, and ecology. Nowadays, the use of natural mordant dyes is mostly confined to wool, on which the dyes, in conjunction with a metallic mordant, provide deep shades of characteristically excellent wet and light fastness. Although mordant dyes are similar to non-metallized acid dyes, they contain ligands (OH, NH2, COOH) that enable them to form a stable, coordination complex with a metal ion in situ within the wool fiber, accompanied by a dramatic improvement in both the light and washing fastness, as well as a marked change in the color strength of the dyed wool fabric.

    The dye we will use as an example of eco-friendly dyeing comes from a large evergreen tree called the Terminalia arjuna. It has a spreading crown and drooping branches. In India, it is very commonly found in Chhota Nagpur area, Baitful in Madhya Pradesh, and also in Dehradun. Beautiful areas if you get the chance to check in there. But, that’s beside the point. The fruits and bark of different species of Terminalia trees have been used since the Vedic period (1500–500 BC) for the treatment of various heart diseases. Recently, it was also used in the treatment of cancer. The plant exhibits fungicidal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial activity and helps in infertility and immuno-deficiency virus induced diseases.  Moreover, the extract of the T. arjuna barks was used as a potential source of natural antioxidants in food. Madder, is a source of a natural dye producing a variety of anthraquinone pigments in its roots and rhizomes. The main components are di- and trihydroxyanthraquinones, alizarin, and purpurin and their derivatives. It has raditionally been used for imparting a variety of shades of red and brown on cotton, wool, and silk in conjunction with a number of different mordants. I DO REALIZE that using a tree for dyes that has so many medically appealing properties is not the best use of the tree but if that are going to cut into it anyway to do all these things why no use every part of it-but not I’m not telling you kill the deer and make sure you make Christmas ornaments with the hooves…..Si? Great. 

    Madder fruits with different percentage on the color strength of wool fabric to optimize the extractability and dyeability conditions as well. Furthermore, the dyeing and mordanting characteristics of coloring matter on wool fabric have also been studied to improve the fastness properties. When you go online and order your dyes consider these things. Because where your dye comes from and its properties are just as important as how you dye your yarn.