Alkanet dye stuffs is made from the roots of Alkanna tinctoria, a member of the borage family. The root produces a red dye, alkannin, which has been used in the Mediterranean region since antiquity. Alkannin is soluble in alcohol, ether, and oils, but is insoluble in water, so the cut up roots should be soaked in alcohol to extract the most color. Be sure and read the precautions in the instructions about the alcohol. In alkaline environments, alkanet dye has a blue color, with the color changing again to crimson on addition of an acid. The color is red at pH 6.1, purple at 8.8 and blue at pH 10. See the instructions for more detail.
**The dyed fabrics pictured above are two different silks, a cotton jersey, a woven cotton, and a cotton linen blend. Everything was dyed at 100% WOF.**
Made in: PAKISTAN (PK)
How To Use Alkanet Natural Dyes
Dharma used a simple recipe to get these great colors with our natural dyes so you can have a reference for the colors they will give.
Keep in mind there are many recipes and mordants that will yield a wide range of colors and shades from each dye material, so consult a natural dye book for more on this. We carry
For the deepest colors, use a ratio of 1 to 1 dyestuff to fabric, or 2 oz dye to 2 oz fabric, but you can still get good colors using much less dye. We used about 3-4 tablespoons per yard of fabric. The dye bath can be reused to get lighter shades. Experimentation is the best way to determine the right amount of dye for the type of fabric you are using and the color. We found the silk and velvet absorbed the colors the deepest. Some cottons will yield different and deeper shades using Tara Powder (a form of tannic acid) as a mordant with soda ash as an assist.
In alkaline environments, alkanet dye has a blue color, with the color changing again to crimson on addition of an acid. The color is red at pH 6.1, purple at 8.8 and blue at pH 10
At least a day before, cut up the alkanet root and soak in enough alcohol to just cover the dyestuff, such as Everclear or a high proof Vodka (if you don't like the smell of alcohol). Some folks do use rubbing alcohol, but it is the smelliest. Let this soak at least overnight, with a tight fitting lid on, to create your dye extract. If you have time you can do several extractions over a few days or you can dry out the roots and save them for another dye day. CAUTION - always keep in mind that Alcohol is highly flammable. Keep away from naked flames! See below for precautions when using this extract in the dye bath.
Prewash your fabric with synthrapol, rinse well.
To mordant the fabric (or fiber or yarn) simmer together with 1.75 tsp Alum and (optionally) 1 tsp Cream of Tartar per pound of fabric for 1 hour. Allow the fabric to cool in the solution. Squeeze out excess water from material. Rinse and discard solution (all the alum will be absorbed by the fabric). You can allow the fabric to dry if you want to stockpile some pre-mordanted material, but you want to use it in about a month as over time the alum can degrade the fabric.
Carefully heat up your dyestuff that you made previously for an hour adding after enough water so your fabric can move freely. Bring it up to 140º F gradually, allow to cool. You may need to chop up larger roots, such as when you use madder. Roots also like to be soaked overnight for some of the darkest shades. This is best done before you mordant or at the same time. Strain out any roots, shavings, etc. before dyeing.
Add wet fabric to the strained dye bath and bring up to 140ºF gradually, then go for an hour. Allow to cool in dye bath for maximum color absorption. Be sure to stir periodically for even dyeing, turning fabric to get the bubbles out from under. **CAUTION - the alcohol can float on the top of the water - keep covered with a tight fitting lid while simmering, and before stirring, TURN OFF THE STOVE and let cool for a minute. Stir VERY CAREFULLY so as not to splash the alcohol containing dye water onto the stove as alcohol is very FLAMMABLE.**
You can save and reuse the dye bath for lighter shades.
Give the fabric a final gentle wash with synthrapol and rinse.