i was so excited after my experience with indigo that i couldn’t wait to experiment with more natural dyes. our home is surrounded by fields filled with wildflowers, and every time i step outside, my mind wanders through the possibilities. so i was thrilled when i finally found a few evenings in a row to set aside for dyeing.
starting with queen anne’s lace, i followed the master dye bath recipe in rebecca burgess’s book harvesting color. i used a ratio of 1:1 plant matter to yarn, which meant gathering 7 oz of flower heads to dye two skeins of cascade 220 that i pre-mordanted with alum. i waited a bit too long into the queen anne’s lace season here, and had my father-in-law, husband and i all wandering into neighboring fields and up and down our road, trying to gather enough. rebecca advocates for harvesting only 10-20% of most wild plants, in order to leave flowers behind for pollinators and for regrowth next year. we harvested about 30% of the plants, taking only the largest blooms, as there were a lot of small ones that would grow quickly and go to seed soon. i also had mister mow around some patches in our yard, where we harvested all of the flowers before mowing again. if i had done this two weeks earlier, i could have gotten all i need from our own fields and yard. next year…
in the dye bath….
…and hung out to dry.
a beautiful sunny yellow! it came out so much brighter and more saturated than i remember from my experiments in college.
i’m hoping to start a dye journal to keep track of my experimenting, with pressed flowers and yarn swatches and weights and measurements and things. i love the combination of science and pretty!
undyed on the left…