Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dyeing Yarn with Goldenrod

This is a blog post I started last year, when I was in a yarn dyeing frenzy.  It sat as a draft with pictures for months and months... But last week I dyed with Goldenrod again (but forgot to take pictures) so I thought this would be a fitting post.  I have talked about yarn dyeing a few times on the blog, including this post with a more detailed description of the process.

Goldenrod is a wildflower (or weed, depending on who you ask) that grows in empty lots, along highways, and pretty much everywhere in Ohio in the late summer and early fall.  Last year a coworker filled a trashbag for me with the Goldenrod plants growing in his backyard.  This year I was able to scavenge some from an empty lot down by the railroad tracks.  Last year I used the flower, stems, and leaves to make the dye bath, but you can also get nearly the same color from just the flower heads.

I simmered the plant for about an hour before straining out the plant material.  I bought a big mesh ladle thing from the Chinese grocery store and it works great for this!  Meanwhile, I prepared my yarn by mordanting it in a solution of alum.  The yarn came out a beautiful, bright yellow.

I made a TON of dye that day, so I also dyed two additional skeins of yarn and treated them with an iron afterbath.  To get the iron solution I soaked a bunch of rusty nails and other metal bits in a jar with water and vinegar. Then I put the solution in a pot and heated it to almost a boil.  One skein I dipped from the dye bath into the iron bath for about 20-30 seconds (the color changes right before your eyes, it is amazing.)  That one came out a lovely light green.  The next skein I put into the iron bath for longer, probably 1-2 minutes, and it came out a dark forest green.


The Honest Badger said...

Could I dye clothes (muslin) like this?

minimeg said...

Yes! The cotton fabric would need to be prepared differently than wool (because wool is a protein fiber, and cotton/linen is cellulose.)