Natural Dyeing – Logwood


Nothing like a grey day to put you in the mood to talk about Logwood.

Logwood is a tropical tree, the bark of which produces a blue/purple/grey dye.  As I am still learning about sources for my dyestuffs, I used the Earthues Logwood-Grey for my first logwood dyeing project.  I have since learned that I can get responsibly gathered logwood chips through Aurora Silk so that will be my next source.  I want to achieve the purple and blue tones from this wood that I did not really get this time.

On a dyeing day the stovetop is covered in steel pots.

I used 2 teaspoons of logwood extract to dye 7 ounces of wool – it was way too much.  The next time I will use half that amount.  The yarn was 100% merino wool, fingering weight.  I dissolved the logwood in a metal cup using first tepid and then boiling water and added it to my dyepot.  Then I added my mordanted wool (alum and cream of tartar) to the pot.  It looked black.

Hmmm.  Was it supposed to look like that?  Maybe it would lighten up as it dried.  I was thinking I would end up with a charcoal grey, which is what I was expecting.

I heated the yarn in the dye pot for 60 minutes at about 180 degrees.  That is just my fallback time and temp.  While with lighter colors I will let it sit overnight to soak up all the color it can from the dye pot, I did not see a reason to do that with the logwood.  It was already so dark.  So after the first batch had cooled down in the pot, I threw another 3.5 ounce skein into the pot after I had dyed the first round to see what I would get from the exhaust.  I started rinsing the first batch.

This dye forced me to turn to my Ravelry groups to learn how to rinse wool in the dyeing process because after days and days of rinsing, I could not get all of the dye to rinse out of this wool.  I have since found out that Logwood is one of the hardest tones to exhaust – both in the dye pot and in the rinsing process.  Next time I will allow the yarn to dry, cure for a couple of weeks and then start rinsing it.  I will let you know if it works.  I also read that I should double my mordant amount when mordanting wool for logwood – from 10% to 20-25% of weight.  I would think that is because more mordant needs to be present to hold this dye to the wool.  I didn’t know this when I was dyeing this first round – but I am learning.

So while both the first and second batches of heated logwood were rinsing, I threw a third skein into the pot to try to cold soak dye.  There was obviously still alot of dye in the pot but I did not want more of the same (grey is not that big a color in my yarn life) so I hoped that I would get something different if I did not heat the wool.  I left it in the pot for two days.

Here is the third skein in the dye pot.

You can kind of see the blue hues when the flash hits the yarn.

The Logwood has not been skeined yet because I am going to rinse it one more time to see if anymore dye comes out because it has now cured for a couple of weeks.  Here is what we have at this point – and I am not expecting any change in color as it has stayed pretty consistent throughout the rinsing process.

The one on the left is the first heated bath, the one on the right is the second heated bath and the one in the center is the coldwater dyebath.

The lighting made these look much lighter than they actually are.  The first batch actually turned out fairly charcoal grey.

The second batch turned out to be more of a platinum grey and the cold water dyebath produced the same light grey but with a slightly bluer cast.

The coldwater yarn is on the left and the hot water yarn is on the right.

There was still dye left in the pot which I did not keep because I was getting pretty discouraged by the rinsing process at that point.  I wish now I had kept it to see if it would start exhausting the blue tones into the dye more.  Next time.  I am also going to try dipping my lighter toned yarns into the logwood pots briefly to see if I can get a glazing effect or if it will just change the overall color of the yarn.

Next week I will show you what happened when I mixed the weld with a little bit of logwood.  Now I have to get back to my pot of marigolds that are boiling for today’s dye experiment.  Back to work.  🙂

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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11 Responses to Natural Dyeing – Logwood

  1. danielle says:

    Wow! Complicated! It all showed as purply on my monitor, and was quite pretty actually. A greyish purple. Can’t wait to see what the Marigolds do!

    • Shelly R. says:

      Logwood creates some amazing purples and I have seen some royal blues and navy blues from it too. The light catches all of those undertones which the yarn hides in the texture. Its range of colors is why I am not giving up on Logwood. I am hoping it will give me a tosh glaze effect too. It’s at least worth a try.

  2. danielle says:

    p.s. Mike bought all the stuff to make sweet potato pancakes last night, and I’m going to make them for dinner tonight. Thanks for the good idea!

  3. Ashling says:

    Love the platinum, even if it wasn’t the planned-on color…

    • Shelly R. says:

      Let me know if you will be there on Saturday and I will bring some of the yarns we dyed to show you what we got. The pictures are hard to get accurate color with. I love my welds and my marigolds. You can get good indigos with not alot of plants but the process is a little daunting. Marigolds will give you lots of blooms as each plant will keep producing blooms. You freeze the petals until you have enough. Right now I have logwood, weld, black walnut, and logwood/weld mix and the marigold. I plan on doing black beans fairly soon. Lily of the Valley is really interesting too in that you can get about 3 different colors based on when you pick the leaves. I have a poinsettia yarn hanging in the window to test it’s lightfastness. Lots of fun and lots of experimenting.

  4. Shelly R. says:

    I had meant to bring more colors with me but was running late and had let Chip bring them to the Resource Center where he was having the exhibition of his work. I forgot to tell him to bring them home the day before. Next time. I am loving the marigold the most of the dyes I have used so far – but I am pretty excited about the black beans.

  5. Jenna says:

    Hi! I am in the same boat with the rinsing of -Logwood. Did you ever figured out how to get the water to run more clear? This is the first natural dye I have used and I’m not sure how much to rinse it. I’m using roving rather than yarn and I’m worried it’s going to felt with much more rinsing.

    • Shelly R. says:

      A valid concern. Have you tried heat setting using a microwave to start? Sometimes that seems to reduce the number of rinses. My sister dyes roving (with acid dyes – much easier) and it is a much more sensitive process. If you are not selling the roving and are going to use it yourself, you may want to spin it first and then rinse the final yarn so you don’t render your roving unusable. Wish I had more to tell you. Logwood and Brazilwood can be the worst and it feels like you will never exhaust all of the color sometimes.

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