Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fiber-y Fun with Kitchen Chemistry

Ok, so as I said earlier, Allison wants to be a Viking. She's also going to Gulf Wars for the first time this year and needs a goodly amount of new clothes. Since coats are just more handy on kids than cloaks, I'm making her a caftan.

I found the most beautiful dark heathery-brown wool flannel for the body and the lining of the coat. I'll post pics of that as I get them, but this post is all about the decoration.

Allison has some pretty definite ideas about what she likes, and when I asked her what color she wanted the embroidery on her coat to be, she gave me a list: medium brown, light brown, red, orange, and yellow. Ok, these are nice, autumnal colors that I can work with. Except I didn't have them. What I did have was some good, white wool yarn, and a well-stocked kitchen.

You see, protein fibers (wool, silk) take dyes very well. They just need a good amount of an acid to set the color into the fiber. Wanna know what has a lot of color and a lot of acid? Kool-aid! Yeah, no kidding, Kool-aid. Lemonade, Cherry, Orange... all right there in the cabinet. Excellent.

But what about the browns? Well, citric acid is not the only acid you'll find in the kitchen. Tannic acid is also there in abundance. It's in tea, and it makes a very pretty range of browns.

The colors came out brighter than they scanned as. There is a definite difference between the red and the orange, and the yellow is as lemony as you could ask for. She loves the colors, and I think they look gorgeous against the dark brown of the coat.

I'll post more pictures of this project as it comes along.


  1. very nice job on the dying.... isn't it fun!

  2. It really was, and Allison had a lot of fun with it too.