I’ve been planting out some hardy varieties of wine grapes — oh, nothing approaching an actual vineyard, just five each of Marechal Foch (a French hybird red wine grape) and Prairie Star (one of the hardiest known white wine grape varieties).

Here’s one of my baby Marechal Foch vines now!

young Marechal Foch grape vine

It’ll be next year at least before they produce even a few bunches of grapes for me to harvest, but there’s nothing like planning ahead… I’m not a wine maker, beyond the occasional dabbling with a no-fail kit, and I know perfectly well that the thrill of making homemade grape jelly is bound to wear off.

What else do we think of when we think of grape juice?

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Stains, of course.

And just as a weed is just a plant out of place, I like to think of a stain as a natural dye that’s ended up in a poor location…

Lion Brand Yarn gives very simple instructions for how to use grape juice as a dye. This particular recipe uses common salt as a fixative, instead of some hard-to-find substance I’ve never heard of — basically, you just boil up salt water with your grape juice and dip away. They call for a couple of cans of frozen grape juice (plus 4 cans of water and 4 tablespoons of salt), but I see no reason at all not to substitute some real grape juice made from crushed grapes.

wool and cotton yarn dyed with grape juiceDyed cotton and wool yarns are illustrated, of course — Lion Brand is a yarn company, after all — but a natural fibre is a natural fibre, and woven wool fabric, linen, silk, cotton, hemp, almost any natural yarn or fabric would do. For a store-bought fabric, just be sure to machine-wash the fabric several times over, to be sure that any sizing or other chemical treatments that might resist the dye had been completely removed.

I’m thinking about a grape-dyed peasant blouse in lovely light cotton muslin… Wouldn’t the effect be subtly spectacular?!     C”mon, little grape vines — grow!

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