Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Color Development with Natural Brown Cotton

Two skeins of darkened Brown Pima cotton handspun yarn;
atop the skein on the right are a few strands of the original Brown Pima handspun

Starting with Easy To Spin Brown Pima cotton sliver, I produced my first two handspun skeins of naturally colored brown Pima cotton yarn to be used in weaving.

I have learned that, over time, naturally colored brown cotton gradually darkens when subjected to repeated washing with detergents and heating in a dryer, that is, when subjected to moisture, especially in a basic pH environment, and to heat. I decided to do some Color Development, as Sally Fox describes this process for intentionally darkening naturally coloured cotton.

Following one of her suggestions, I added 2T of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to a gallon of water and added those two skeins of handspun brown Pima cotton. As the pot came to a boil, I kept pushing the yarn beneath the surface of the water until it was completely saturated and stayed immersed. I boiled the pot for 30 minutes.

Not only did the brown color darken, but on drying, the yarn has lost some of its sheen and has a matt appearance. I like my transformed skeins of dark brown cotton. I find a growing interest in the history of colored cotton, as described by James M. Vreeland, Jr. in the linked article published in the Scientific American in 1999. Equally fascinating is the Sally Fox story: Innovation in the Field.

No matter how interesting it is to learn new things, nothing beats the pleasure of a simple head scratch.

Post by M in JaM
Pix by JaM

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