Blessed are the Cheesemakers

So I’ve been researching natural dye traditions of the Himalayas, and came across a mention of “curd water” being used as a mordant. No information about how it is used, so I am experimenting. This will be so awesome if it works. I mostly use dye materials I’ve grown or gleaned myself, but I still have to buy alum and I’ve been looking for a lower-impact alternative. (The article I read also mentioned cow dung as a mordant, but housemates fear not, I’m not going there.)

Last night my cheese-making neighbor brought over a tub of whey, and I simmered some test fiber in it. Put some in a black bean dye bath today, with some alum-mordanted wool as a control. Here are the results:

whey and black bean

The alum-mordanted wool did the best (it’s the one on the far right) but the whey clearly did something. The white wool didn’t go into the dye bath–I just put it in the picture to provide contrast. The skein on the far left is silk yarn. It seems to have dyed a bit more evenly than the wool did. I didn’t rinse the wool after taking it out of the whey, so there are places where stuff sort of clumped on, and those areas took more dye. So, further research is needed! Everybody start eating a lot of cheese so I can play around with more of this stuff.