Friday, September 16, 2011

Nature's dyes

There's something to be said about enjoying what nature has to offer to feed your passions.
A few months ago, I had purchased Wild color by Jenny Dean. A very interesting book on natural dyes.
Eventhough the author is from England, the book is still relevant to us Canadians since many of the same plants and trees are here in North America.
This book has been by my side for a few weeks now and is already a very favorite of mine.

I must say that I'm a little late to start to harvest plants because we have had a couple of cold nights already. But nevertheless, I was able to find a few patches of goldenrods still in bloom.
I eagerly had them simmering in the dye pot in no time.
I must say, I had trouble finding alum to use as mordant and when I did I could go ahead a prepare the fibre to be dyed.

 (Goldenrod flowers. They grow in open fields, along the highways and in ditches.)

The colour is a very soft yellow with a touch of green in it. I am really excited about it.
Well, yes, I know, I do easily get excited about these things!

(Goldenrod dyed yarn)

A trip to my mother's house to help her dig out and move her rhubarb plants this week meant a great big pot of rhubarb roots for me to play with!!!
Yup, rhubarb is not only to make jams and pies.
I could not believe how big and deep those roots are. We worked really hard to harvest these!

(freshly washed rhubarb roots) 

In order to extract the most dye from the roots, I chopped them up in smaller pieces. It's also the best way to dry what I will have left for another day.

I soaked the roots for a few hours, then simmered them a few more and left everything to cool overnight.
The next morning, strained the dye stock and proceeded to dye my yarn.
Look at that glorious colour...almost orange.
(yarn is simmering in rhubarb roots dye stock. Roots still in the sieve.) 

A very rich golden orange type of colour. Love it!
(Rhubarb root dyed yarn)

Sorry, just have to put up another shot of this colour. I'm so happy with it!!!

Oh, and by the way, I have lots of dried rhubarb roots left. I have a feeling that I'm not yet done experimenting with this stuff.

Looks like it will be a glorious weekend here, hope to enjoy every minute of it! Hope you can do the same.


  1. Interesting!!! I have never dyed with natural plants.
    Where did you finally find the alum? Is it not also used in cooking (or pickling?).
    I bet those colours are even richer in 'real'. You should be outside with your dyepot this weekend watching your alpacas and spinning at the same time! (are you hating retirement? LOL!)

  2. I found the alum at the bins store. And yes, it's used for pickling. I understand there's another kind of alum that would work better but I will have to order online.
    Retirement = bliss!!!