Friday, December 5, 2008

A Bolt of Eggplant - what can be done ?

On Tuesday I had a great question :

Well, it's -22C on this overcast Tuesday morning around 9:30 and it's just starting to get light. The dull morning reminded me of the whole bolt of dull egg plant coloured wool I purchased last year and what to do with the dang thing. It doesn't bleed much and really, it is just simply brown.
I wanted a rich egg plant wool like the photo showed, any suggestions to bring it to life?

Eggplant is a deep rich colour but it can be terribly boring as well.
My advice for anyone with a plethora of one dark colour ( equals boring ) is to divide it into 8 parts, the amount you divide is up to you, according to your needs for a background say.

Find 8 BRIGHT dyes.
I overdye the each piece of eggplant with one of the bright dyes. 
Colours I might use: 
red violet
red brown

You will end up with an array of lovely off shoots of eggplant, some warm, some cool, some dull some bright, but all dark.

You can also make chelsea rolls with eggplant in smaller pieces about 1/16th or 1/8th of a yd works.
Use 8 pieces of wool, the same 8 colours. They will co-mingle and create a pieces of interesting spotted array that all go together. 
Here are the instructions for making generic Chelsea rolls.

The Chelsea Roll
Using only one fabric like natural or a blue or gray you can have lovely variations to use together in tons of ways. Textures work wonderfully too. If you use a variety of colours in your chelsea pan you will get a whole different set of miraculous set great wool. This is what I choose to show you.

You need:
8 or 12 pieces of wool about 18" long and about 4" wide in colours of your choice.
Wet the wool using synthropol, jet dry or hair shampoo without conditioner. All of these will wet wool almost immediately. It only takes a few drops.

I call this THE CHELSEA ROLL because our wool looks exactly like a chelsea roll/cinnamon bun sitting in the pan. Look for a flat pan like an cake pan or any flat surface pan with some depth. If each piece of eggplant is 1/4 yd, I would use 1/4 tsp of dye in 3/4 cup of water, make sure your pan is deep enough to hold the water needed to dye 8 pieces of wool.Once a kitchen tool is devoted to dyeing that's the end of it’s cooking life. If you have no pan go to the grocery store and pick up an aluminium cake pan. When you use it place it on a cookie sheet for ease of moving in and out of the oven.

For more dynamic results use one colour of dye per piece of wool.
One of the biggest hang ups we have as dyers is the inability to just go with something, we think we need exactly what dyes are suggested. Making substitutions can really free us up to use our eyes more instead of recipes.
If you chose colours that are alike, greens, blues, purple or yellow, red, orange that will get you a blending type of wool, you could use for a hill or water or sky.
If you choose colours from around the colour wheel you will get lots more interesting variations. When colours bump into each other they create new colours. Try both ways. See the side bar to help relate the dyes to wool and what you desire in the end.

Don’t forget to add a pinch of citric acid crystals to each dye formula.

Have your pan ready, your oven on at 350˚F , your water boiling, your dyes picked, your wool wet.

Pick up a piece of wool place in your pan and roll it in a spiral.
I usually grab hold of the end of the wool strip and start turning it around like I’m getting pasta on a fork, do this loosely. It should look rose like. Do all 8 or 12 rolls.
These rolls can touch each other in the pan and I encourage them to do so.

Here is what one roll looks like.

Next prepare your dye. Dye the rolls one at a time. Pour the dye directly onto one wool roll. Let the dye go where it may. Continue on until all the rolls have received their anointing of dye.

Using a bottom of a jar or a specially assigned potato masher press down firmly on each roll in the middle of it once. Don’t clean the jar or masher. between rolls. Don’t touch the wool again please. I beg you. Please don’t add more water or cover. Place in oven until the water is clear.

Here is what they look like in the pan after dyeing. These were dyed with greens over medium colours but you can imagine what will happen with darker ones.


  1. Wanda ~ this is such an interesting lesson ~ I will definitely give it a try!! Beautiful!

  2. Well I'll be damned...I also have a huge glob
    of Eggplant. Somewhere about 5 years ago I had
    an attack in which I thought if I didn't get it I'd never find anymore wool in my lifetime...or something like that! So I bought it. Anyway....with your Blog on eggplant and
    colors I am now saved! No need to go insane
    from the dark. Thanks Wanda. Jo