Henna – third use of dyebath

Today I decided just to dye wool because it has the best takeup of dye so far. I had read that it is a good idea to strain a henna dyebath before dyeing wool due to the possible existence of impurities in the henna dye.

I tried two recommended methods: a coffee filter and, as a substitute for cheesecloth, 4 layers of cotton gauze.

The coffee filter method is tedious and the filter gets full of henna powder pretty quickly. The gauze alternative ends up removing dyestuff from the bath. I think because the possible impurities are things like straw and twigs that a coffee filter or fine sieve is not appropriate. I did discover that my henna powder does not have anything extra in it and I probably could have skipped this step.

Fabric/fibre = merino prefelt and Merino Wool / Mulberry Silk blend sliver (87.5% / 12.5%) from World of Wool (see Materials tab)

Fabric preparation = none. Both were added to dyebath dry.

WOF = 60 grams

Liquid = 6 quarts tap water (softened) at room temperature

Dye = Henna powder (see Dyes, Additives and Mordants Tab for Henna Powder [1]) leftover from yesterday’s dyebath and the first day of henna dyeing which started with 55 grams of henna.  With filtering, I estimate 1/3rd of the original amount was removed.

Mordants and Additives = none
Dyeing Container = non-reactive

Cook time = in covered pot, slowly warm to 195 Fahrenheit, hold for two hours stirring occasionally, remove from heat, let cool overnight, remove fibre and wash out. Total time in dyebath approximately 18 hours.

Results:

Wool prefelt is on the left and sliver is on the right.  The prefelt is considerably lighter than my experiments for the two previous days.  I really like the caramel colour.

I estimate the protein-based fabric and fibre dyed over the three days from a single dyebath at around 100 grams.  This means, at 55 grams, I had considerably more henna powder in the first days’ dyebath than I needed.  This is why I am still getting colour as I continue to use the bath.

Henna – dyeing with residual dye bath

Recipe = Jenny Dean’s Wild Colour book (see References Tab)

Fabric = mix of scraps of cotton, merino prefelt

Fabric preparation = cotton sheeting and blue broadcloth were scoured, merino prefelt had no preparation; cotton was also soy-soaked four times in soymilk powder solution (1 cup powder dissolved in 20 cups water) and dried between soakings

WOF = 60 grams

Liquid = 6 quarts tap water (softened) at room temperature

Dye = Henna powder (see Dyes, Additives and Mordants Tab for Henna Powder [1]) leftover from yesterday’s dyebath which started with 55 grams of henna

Mordants and Additives = none
Dyeing Container = non-reactive

Cook time = in covered pot, slowly warm to 195 Fahrenheit, hold for three hours stirring occasionally, remove from heat, let cool overnight, remove fabric and wash out. Total time in dyebath approximately 18 hours.

Results:
Top is cotton sheeting dyed yesterday at 50% WOF. Middle is soy-soaked (and dried) cotton sheeting dyed in henna dyebath leftover from yesterday. Slightly darker than fabric dyed with no preparation. Bottom is unbleached cotton dyed yesterday at 50% WOF to show how dark I have been able to get cotton to dye in henna thus far. Click to enlarge for details.

Left is Testfabrics Cotton 419 (mercerized cotton broadcloth) dyed blue with fibre-reactive dyes. Right is same fabric, soy-soaked (and dried), dyed in henna dyebath leftover from yesterday’s dye session.  Colour is slightly darker with some medium brown fragments.  Click to enlarge for details.

Right is merino wool prefelt dyed yesterday at 50% WOF in henna dyebath.  Left is merino wool prefelt dyed in leftover henna dyebath. Colour is slightly lighter and more caramel.

When it comes to wool, a little henna goes a long way!  Tomorrow, given the results for the merino prefelt, my plan is to dye silk/wool sliver and another scrap of prefelt in the remaining dyebath. Also, I plan to strain the dyebath before using it.

Henna – no mordants or additives

Recipe = Jenny Dean’s Wild Colour book (see References Tab)

Fabric = mix of scraps of cotton, linen, rayon/linen blend, silk, merino wool

Fabric preparation = cotton broadcloth and sheeting were scoured, merino felt was washed and remainder had no preparation

WOF = 110 grams

Liquid = 6 quarts tap water (softened) at room temperature

Dye = Henna powder (see Dyes, Additives and Mordants Tab for Henna Powder [1]) measured at 50% WOF or 55 grams dissolved in small amount of water to make a paste and then added to dye bath

Mordants and Additives = none
Dyeing Container = non-reactive

Cook time = in covered pot, slowly warm to 195 Fahrenheit, hold for three hours stirring occasionally, remove from heat, let cool overnight, remove fabric and wash out.  Total time in dyebath approximately 18 hours.

Results:

Top right is handmade merino felt (white before dyeing) and bottom left is white merino (21 micron) prefelt from World of Wool.

Top right is plain weave raw silk (unknown source) and bottom is patterned raw silk from Dressew Supply (Vancouver, B.C.)

Silk charmeuse from Dharma Trading (white before dyeing) – Shiny side is at top right and crepe side is middle right.  Scraps from Ujamaas Grandmas Annual Fabric and Yarn Sale dyed same colour.

From top to bottom right (all white before dyeing):  cotton broadcloth (Testfabrics 419), damask tablecloth, cotton sheeting.

Top right is 50%/50% linen rayon blend from Dharma Trading (white before dyeing), bottom is unbleached cotton from Dressew Supply (Vancouver, B.C.)

Paint chips used for colour matching are from Canadian Tire and are for the Premier paint collection.

Next experiments will use left over dye bath from this experiment without refreshing with henna powder.

Welcome

I have been doing a fair bit of fabric dyeing recently and decided it was time to capture the results of my experiments — the good and the bad!  Posting will be sporadic but will relate to dyeing or using dyed materials.  I have a substantial library of books on dyeing as well as websites of other dyers.  I will reference any recipes I’m using from those books and websites.  Feel free to comment but realize I am not an expert.  That means I won’t be able to answer questions about how to fix your dyeing challenges.  I will, however, share what is working for me and my specific environmental circumstances.

I am located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and using city water for all my experiments with drainage to the city sewer system.  In my household, that water is softened but when I am using our local glacier-fed, hard water straight from the cold water tap, I’ll be sure to point it out.

If there are any other environmental details that would help, please ask in the comments.