Remember this? It is the yarn I spun from the little sheep Mr. Henderson gave me wool from. It spun up so nice. However, there were little black hairs throughout the yarn, from the original owners, ha ha. So today I decided to do some dying. I picked up some black walnuts in their hulls from the back yard at church a few weeks ago, and they had been sitting on the porch in a plastic bag. I put the walnuts, hulls and all, into a couple of socks and tied knots in the open ends so that the “dirt” from the hulls wouldn’t get into my yarn. I then boiled them in a pot that I have designated to be for dyeing from now on. After boiling that for about an hour, I had a very dark dye liquid. I removed the socks and walnuts, and put these two skeins of yarn into the dye bath.

After dying for about an hour, I took the wool out and rinsed it in clear hot tap water. This is the color that I got at that point. It is a nice brown, but really not what I was hoping for. It is a little light, a little splotchy, and not as rich as I was hoping for. So I reintroduced the wool to the dyebath and added about a teaspoon of cream of tar tar. Walnut dyeing is great in that you don’t absolutely have to have a mordant, from what I have read. I didn’t have any anyway, but I did have cream of tar tar, and I figured it couldn’t hurt the yarn, so I mixed it with warm water and poured it in. I simmered the yarn for another hour, and re rinsed.

This is the best picture of the finished yarn. It shows the much warmer brown that resulted at the addition of the cream of tartar and further simmering. This is closer to what I consider to be the “king” of browns, buffalo brown. I think the only thing that could be better than this is real buffalo fiber, which I hope to try soon, or as soon as spring gets here, the herd of buffalos owned by the rancher down the road shed, and I can talk him into letting me spin some of the fiber. I think this yarn turned out beautiful, and I hope to be able to try my hand at natural dyeing again soon.