When I was a child, I had a cotton sweater I loved to wear. It was bright white, short sleeved, and every time I wore it, I spilled something on it. Tea, Coke, orange juice, ketchup, more tea, I never wore the thing for a full day. We called it the Fated Sweater and Mum bleached it viciously every time I wore it. But what if you spilled the tea on purpose?
I had a cunning plan to dye some handspun yarn before knitting with it. The final product would be spun, plied, dyed, and knitted by me. There happens to be on hand a small skein of handspun greyish-white mohair, a kerchief pattern for the right amount of yarn, and some black tea. In my house there is always tea.
According to one source, tea is a substantive, or direct dye, and needs no mordant. According to another, I need to follow the dye-bath with a cold water fixative to make it permanent. The forums on Knit Picks said to skip the whole fixative and mordant thing but pre-soak in water. Yet another said to pre-soak in a 4 to 1 mix of cold water and vinegar. Colour me confused.
I decided to go for the simple approach: soak the yarn in three cups of cool water with a smidge of Eucalan, brew up a nice bowl of hot tea, add yarn, and walk away.
Part 2 coming soon