Cota: Navajo Tea

Over the weekend I finally got my skeins mordanted. 20161218_083644.jpg I used Jenny Dean’s book Wild Color as my instruction manual and weighed out all my fiber.  I had 640g of fiber total.  So I calculated 8% alum and 7% cream of tartar 20161218_083418.jpgand followed her method for mordanting for 12 hours.  I then took most of the skeins out to dry for later and left 3 damp to play with Cota.

Cota is a Navajo dye and they also drink it as a tea.  As a dye it produces colors that range from yellow to orange.  Supposedly Cota from more dry environments produce the orange. I gathered mine along the highway in southern NM.  I was looking for that coppery orange color.  This color card is from a workshop I took close to 5 years ago maybe.20161219_083825.jpg  (How was it that long ago?) It shows the orange I was looking for.  In talking with my dye friend Ric, he told me to stuff my pot with Cota and overdye something brown or grey.  So I chose some fawn colored alpaca that I had blended with wool and silk and spun into a fingering weight yarn.  I also grabbed a skein of the white CVM because I want skeins of all my dye experiments.

I cooked the Cota on my stove for several hours and the color was a nice deep coppery orange in the pot.  I did not weigh my dyestuffs, perhaps I should have, but there was no way anymore of it was going in so I just went with it.  I strained it an allowed it to cool overnight as my yarn was still in the mordant bath.

Monday morning I dyed my skeins.  I have to say, that I need to start doing my dye when I can be focused on dyeing.  However, as I have kids and commotion, that would be in about 10 years.  So lets just say that once again, I had some fumbles.  My dye stock boiled, so I took it off that burner and placed it on another and turned it down…. only to find out an hour later that I had turned on the wrong burner…. anyway, I finally got the correct burner on and simmered the yarn for about 2 hours.

I never got my orange.  It is much more of a Mustard color. imag1566.jpg The overdyed alpaca kind of has a color of gold in the box of crayola’s.  The more I look at it the more it grows on me.  I really wanted that orange color, so that is a tad disappointing.  I am learning with natural dyes that you really can’t expect any one thing.  It’s a process.  This color is within the correct range for Cota.  Considering it’s been in my garage for about 4-5 years I should be happy it still gave me color at all.


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