Butternut Stripe Fingering

Beautiful Butternut striped fingering weight Merino/Nylon 4 ply sock yarn dyed with Butternuts harvested right here on the farm

The Yarn

  • 75% Superwash Merino¬† ¬†25% Nylon
  • 4 ply fingering
  • ~460 yards/4 oz (100 g)

The Natural Dye

  • Nuts of the Butternut (Juglans cinerea) collected from the forest at the farm
  • Nuts simmered for few hours, then un-mordanted yarn added to pot with nuts and simmered until desired shade
  • I first dyed the yarn in a weaker Butternut dye bath, then I over-dyed half of each skein in a second, stronger Butternut bath.

Washing

  • Hand wash or gentle machine cycle
  • warm/warm small load
  • no bleach
  • dry flat

Butternut trees are resident here in the forest and fence rows of the farm. I didn’t actually know there were any on the farm. I came upon one quite by chance when I was scouting for Walnut trees. Further scouting revealed a total of two mature trees and two immature trees. I’m still scouting for more. Butternut is an at risk species, so I am managing them as carefully as I can – primarily from creeping grape ivy which is a major nuisance on the farm. It had almost killed the second mature Butternut tree I found and many of the walnut trees growing along the edge of a ravine in the back forty.

Butternut is actually a member of the Walnut family and is also know as White Walnut. The nuts are more oblong than round like a Black Walnut, and the husks are sticky. They produce their nuts in late summer into early fall and I collect them while their husks are still green, as it is the husks that have the highest concentration of dye compounds. That means picking them directly off the tree where reachable, or racing the squirrels to collect them off the ground when the fall, and before the green hulls start to blacken.The nuts also contain tannin which means the dye compounds don’t need a mordant to fix it to the Butternut Striped Sock yarn.

Civil war blurb – confederate soldiers – Butternuts. Original confederate uniforms were grey. Shortage of cloth and uniforms – captured union blue uniforms were overdyed with butternuts/walnuts.

This is my first work in natural dyeing yarn with a nylon content. I have found very little information in the peer reviewed literature about the light fastness of natural dyes on protein fibres that are blended with nylon. In the product pictures I have included the results of a light fastness test I did, in which I found no discenerable (to my eye) difference after 3 months in a south facing window.

Butternut tree and nuts