wild birch bark

Wild isn't really the right word, but it seems like the best one for bark I came across while out walking the dog, rather than from branches in my own garden. The first walk I took after getting starting to dye was exciting in a 'ooo, a birch stump' kind of way. Now I've realised that they're actually everywhere, and there are quite a few fallen ones left when our council cut down some of the woodland to make space for a new cycle path. One tree in particular gave me huge chunks of bark, so I thought I'd try some more experiments.

Now apparently its possible to get shades of pink from birch bark. So I did things slowly, and soaked the bark in an airtight jar for five days, then made the dyebath. Wow - the smell was strong. If I want to try this again I'll need to set things up outside. At 10pm it suddenly smelled like there were a herd of cows in the kitchen.

The colour results though were no different to last time, soaking made zero difference. Perhaps it needs soaked for weeks, or its just not the right type of birch, or time of year, who knows.

I dyed two skeins, and for the second I tried a weak iron dip. Dipping turned the pale caramel colour to pale olive green. Similar to the nettle dyeing of last month, and a lot more hassle!

birch bark on the left, and with a iron dip on the right

birch bark on the left, and with a iron dip on the right

The details:

115g of birch bark, soaked for 5 days then boiled for one hour
2 x 25g skeins of wool yarn, pre-mordanted with alum and cream of tartar

skein one: held below a simmer for one hour, left to cool and rinse
skein two: held below a simmer for one hour, then 1/4 tsp of iron added to the dyepot for five minutes, left to cool and rinse