For a whole year I've been trying to get some colour out of larch bark which I like very much for its colour and odour, but the larch refuses it to me. I collected the bark last August in Robanov kot, a lovely mountain valley with pastures for horses, cattle and pigs, and a hut where you are served old-fashioned shepherds’ dishes, and put it to soak in water.
After three months of soaking the bark I added white wool yarn. Two months later I got something pale, a faint memory of yellowish-pink (the skein on the left).
I left the bark soaking and added white alum mordanted wool yarn. After about three months I got something pale, a faint memory of pinkish-yellow (the skein on the right).
I took another skein of white yarn and cooked it – in fact warmed it in the dyebath for three hours. Since there was not much colour the skein went back to the bath (without the bark) for six weeks. When I washed the wool I got the darkest colour up till then (in the middle). Probably because this was the warmest time of soaking in the dyebath. There is a bit more colour, but nothing special.
I then added 50 grams of alum mordanted carded wool. I warmed it slowly until light vapours were evolving (probably about 70 degrees Celsius). Since there was almost no colour on the wool it went back into the dyebath until yesterday, 6 August, when I washed it. Very little colour stayed on the wool – pale pink – and I did not take any picture of it. I poured the dyebath away since it obviously won’t colour wool.
I saved the barks that had been cooked, without giving much colour, for further use. On 9 May I poured about 1,5 litre of alcohol on it, hoping alcohol might pull some colour out (= extract) of this damn miserly larch bark. Since it absorbed much of it I added more alcohol and water on10 June to cover it completely (and I ran totally out of alcohol).
Today, after three months of soaking the larch bark in alcohol I strained the liquid, poured in some more water and added unmordanted and alum mordanted yarn. I’ve been heating it very slowly, up to 65 deg in three hours, and I intend to heat it a bit above 70 deg. My whole flat smells pleasantly of fruit brandy and I avoid the kitchen as much as I can, in order not to get tipsy from vapours, or even get as mad as a hatter.
The upper picture shows wet larch barks after I’d poured off alcohol. The second picture shows white wool yarn in the dyebath. This is my last try at getting some decent colour from larch bark. I hope for better luck than in previous trials.