Bramble On

In olden days, people would make a solution for mordanting yarn called “copperas”. Often it was just a jar of rusty nails in vinegar. My house came with an extensive collection of rusty nails in the basement, so it was easy to whip some up. Sure looks yucky, doesn’t it?

I’ve been trying to find some cashmere-blend yarn that is good for making guy socks, since Ingi can tolerate cashmere. It seems like the yarns that are sturdy enough for socks come in lovely colours, which aren’t so great for guy socks. I ordered some undyed cashmere-silk blend yarn from Colourmart and figured I’d try dyeing it. I found a recipe for yarn dyed with brambles that can range to greys and blacks, so I decided to try that. I took a big pot full of wild raspberry plants (stems and leaves) and boiled it for 2 hours. Then I let it sit on the stove overnight and part of the next day. Then I strained out the plant matter and put the liquid back in the pot. The recipe has you add as much water as needed and then bring the yarn up to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Next you add the iron and cream of tartar and cook it for 10 more minutes, then let the yarn sit overnight. It was a long day, so I accidentally added the iron before I added the yarn, and cooked it in that solution for an hour instead. I erred on the side of too little iron, because cashmere and silk are delicate fibres and I was afraid to damage them. The yarn looked kind of blackish grey before I rinsed it, but it is more of a greyish-green now. It’s actually a pretty nice colour, and still guy-friendly.

It’s a little more green in real life, it seemed to liven up more as it dried. I look forward to trying this recipe out some more next year, since I have wild raspberries all over the place, and there are some that keep trying to grow in my flower bed. Now at least I don’t feel as guilty to pull them out as I used to, since I am using them for good.

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