What do you do when your Christmas Poinsettia begins to fade and drop its leaves? Well, I can't resist gathering up those beautiful red leaves and putting them in a dye pot. A few years ago, I dyed a sample mordant card and one small skein of yarn, mordanted with iron, in a poinsettia leaf dye bath. The yarn came out green, and can be viewed on a previous post.
This year my leaves went into a small copper pot, covered with water, and simmered on top of the wood stove for two days, adding a little water as necessary to keep the liquid from evaporating away.
After two days, the liquid was still only a light golden color, but I added a small skein of alum-mordanted, wool yarn anyway, to see what might develop. I let this simmer simultaneously with the leaves for another two days on the wood stove. Sadly, this only resulted in a dismal, light beige on the yarn.
Well, that was not going to satisfy! When using a copper or iron pot for a mordant, you can never really know how much mineral actually leaches into the dye bath, so results are quite unpredictable. While there may be enough mordant to help lock color in, it may not be enough to shift color. So, I pulled the yarn out, drained the leaves out, and added 1/4 tsp. of copper mineral salts to the dye bath. Once this had dissolved, I re-entered the skein of yarn and put it back on the wood stove for the rest of the day. Notice the blue-green copper residue on the inside of the copper pot. These are the minerals that leach into the dye bath, but again, the amount is unpredictable.
The added copper resulted in a pretty lime-gold color.
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