I decided to make my dad a beanie for him to wear out on his ranch, made from the wool from my sheep and dyed with the hulls from his pecans. It was quite a journey. I have been asked how long it took. I really have no idea, but many many hours. He's definitely worth it.
Pecans in their hulls. The hulls are the greenish covering that eventually splits open to reveal pecan nuts in their shells. I highly recommend wearing nitrile gloves while handling the hulls or any of the dye throughout the process. The hulls/dye will not hurt you; it will just stain your skin for many days.
I cut up pecan hulls into little chunks. Added water to the pan and let simmer for 2-4 hours. I honestly cannot remember how long.
Cormo combed top from my own sheep. I like to form a wreath with my fiber by going around and around in a circle, then using a synthetic yarn to tie it loosely together at four points around the wreath.
I then placed my fiber wreath into lukewarm water and let it soak for about 30 minutes. There is no need to add anything to the water for a mordant. The pecan hulls contain enough tannins that a mordant is unnecessary.
After simmering for several hours, all of the pecan hull bits sunk to the bottom of the pan. You can see how dark the water is now.
In order to keep the wool clean, I placed a strainer over a bucket and poured the pecan hull water mixture into the bucket in order to separate out the pecan hulls. I then poured the strained darkened water back into the pot.
I removed my wet fiber from the bucket of water and gently squeezed out as much water as I could from the fiber. I then placed it into the dye pot. I let it sit in the dye pot for about 4 hours while keeping the pot warm. DO NOT BOIL. Occasionally I would rotate the wool in order to dye the fiber evenly.
It looks like something has happened! I removed the fiber from the pot and placed it into a bucket, then I gently poured the dye into the same bucket. I let he fiber sit in that bucket my my laundry sink for the remaining part of the day and until the next morning. I would rotate the position of the fiber within the bucket every few hours so that it would dye evenly, although I did not wake up in the middle of the night to do this. That would just be going too far. I like my sleep.
The big reveal the next morning pulling it out of the dye bath. I gently rinsed the fiber with warm water and a touch of dawn until the water was fairly clear.
Hanging to dry over the laundry sink.
Hanging to dry by the fire, because I'm impatient.
All dry! It worked! Comparing the Cormo combed top that was not dyed to the the top that was. Actually these photos don't do the real color justice. It's a beautiful tan with red undertones.
The yarn on the niddy noddy.
Setting the twist.
Drying by the fire.
The yarn as a center pull ball.
Happy pecan farmer!