Below are instructions for Stovetop and Solar Dyeing. Choose what works best for you depending on what you have access to, how much time you have, and the time of year (ie, solar works better when the days are sunny).
1. Fill a deep saucepan or stock pot with water. Fill a large glass jar with plant dye materials and water - this is a double boiler. It will protect your cooking pots and pans from the mordants on the fabrics, however minimal this is a safety precaution and good dye practice.
2. Place the whole set up on the stove and heat at low temp. Every stove is different, my electric stove works good at about 3, no higher than 4. You want to stay below a boil so as to not burn out any color extracted from the plants.
3. Now we wait about an hour but it maybe be more or less! (unless your plant material is dense, like seeds or bark or wood, which would benefit from an overnight soak before heating them)
4. At this point check the plant tea (don't drink it!), is there color or is the water still just looking like water? If it has color then the chances go up about color sticking to the cloth. Sadly, no color means try again, but silver lining, another walk! If you're plant did not produce a dye but don't want to try again just continue on!
5. Strain out the plant material if you can, don't fuss if the bits are too tiny!
5. Now place your pre-wetted (under the faucet is fine) piece of fabric and yarn in and proceed using the double boiler/Jar inside pot method to keep the water warm/under a boil for again, about an hour. At this point the pigments will have attached on to the fabric!
6. Rinse the fabric and let dry!
**this may seem like an easier method but its easy to forget about the jar and make a moldy mess! Set a reminder somewhere!
1. Pour hot, not boiling, water over the plant dye materials into the jar and fill, this helps kickstart the color extraction but isn't essential, room temp water is fine. Screw lid on jar and place on a brightly lit window sill or patio table. This process is dependent on the sun heating up the water and extracting the pigment from the plant more slowly. Depending on the spot you choose and the time of year this can take multiple days.
2. As time passes check the plant tea, is there color or is the water still just looking like water? If it has color then the chances go up about color sticking to the cloth. Sadly, no color means try again, but silver lining, another walk! If you're plant did not produce a dye but don't want to try again just continue on!
3. Strain out the plant material if you can, don't fuss if the bits are too tiny!
4. Add your pre-wetted fabric piece and yarn. Let it all sit in the sunny spot again! 24 hours is a good rule of thumb to start but it might happen faster or slower! Keep an eye on it!
5. Now rinse and dry!