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First Try, Natural Dye




I was surprised by this bed of Black-eyed Susan/Rudbeckia recently, having only transplanted a couple of plants last Fall from an area where I didn’t want them. I’m glad I cut back the Lupine and Irises that filled this garden just a few weeks ago.


I harvested a large container of blossoms that measured 25 ounces, so I decided to dye three 4-ounce skeins of an off-white wool yarn I have an abundance of.

I covered the blossoms with water and brought to a steaming simmer at 7/2/22 at night for less than an hour then turned the heat off (because it was late) and left it covered overnight.

I reheated it at 6:40 am on 7/3/22. It got to a boil at 7am and I reduced to the heat to a simmer and at 8am turned the heat off.



At 8:30am I moved outside to build a makeshift firepit to complete the process, since I will be using Rhubarb leaves as mordant (and it is a beautiful warm sunny day, so why not be outside?). I built a fire and placed 1 pound of cut up rhubarb leaves in a copper vat with rainwater over the fire. Then I moved the steeping pot of blossoms out next to the fire to continue steeping.


At Noon I washed the yarn in hot soapy water. This yarn had been processed by a mill and was clean.

At 12:40pm I rinsed the yarn and added it to the strained mordant.


At 1:30pm I rinsed the residual mordant from the yarn.

This is the change in color after the rhubarb soak.




Then while still warm and wet I added all three skeins to the dye vat. I forgot to take a picture of this step since I had started a project in the barn during the waiting periods and was more focused on that project at the time.



I let the fire just die out after that and at the end of the day moved the vat into the garage for the yarn to soak overnight. At my last check before going to bed the yarn appeared a golden brown – not the sage/moss green I was hoping for, but I’ve learned from others that the final color can be a surprise.


It's July 4th and today is the big reveal. As soon as I finish my coffee I’ll release the yarn from the dye bath and rinse it out…




Generally, a disappointment, but a learning experience. I ended up with a light honey brown, definitively in the yellow family. I thought it looked like the natural colors from my sheep Willy and Ludwig but direct comparison revealed a completely different color that actually makes a nice pairing with either or both those colors. So, a disappointment from the standpoint of my goal of creating a sage green but still a lovely color that is growing on me – now a day later after it dried and I could appreciate the color (a rich golden) and how it pairs with some of the natural yarn colors I have in stock.

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