Dying for some tea (part 1)

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.

Before dying the yarn.

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

3 thoughts on “Dying for some tea (part 1)”

  1. Oh my, I didn’t know there was so much conflicting advice out there! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens, and hope it turns out well.

  2. I once ‘dyed’ a baseball style shirt with tea. I loved wearing it. I got some grass stains on it and thoughtlessly stain treated it and ended up removing the tea along with the grass. and the stain treater had something to prevent restaining so redyeing the shirt made for blotchyness.

    I would have thought that tea would have needed some type of mordant like other natural plant dyes to make it color fast.

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