Friday, 31 July 2009

Instant dyeing the natural way

Top Row Persicaria Tinctoria top left
Bottom Row Golden rod flowers first left, flowers with ammonia, stems and leaves, stems and leaves with ammonia
Top Row Centre Golden Rod flowers over dyed with Persicaria Tinctoria and on right golden rod leaves and stems overdyed with Persicaria Tinctoria

Posted by Helen
Written on the 31st of July

I am busy getting ready to teach for a week at the Association of Weavers Spinners and Dyers Summer School-which event I have been getting ready for for weeks if not months. But yesterday I loaded the car and today pottered around doing bits and pieces and Enys came round to garden. The garden is reproaching me, full of dye that is not being used. I have dried armfuls of weld,Gensita Tinctoria and yarrow. But the Persicaria is going blue at the edges showing it is ready for dyeing and the golden rod in flower. SO................
100g of damp ( because we had had a lot of rain) golden rod flowers into one slow cooker, 100g of golden rod leaves and stalk into another. Topped up with 4 litres of water. About 100g of damp mordanted (8%Alum 7%Cream of tartar) Wensleydale added.
Both on "Keep warm" facility -this is about 80 degrees.
one hour later the flowers had dyed the Wensleydale a bright clear yellow while the stalks and leaves showed no colour at all
The tops of three Persicaria T plants were chopped off leaves stripped and ripped up into a pan covered with cold water put onto the gas stove in the kitchen as my electric rings are packed. Heated till hand hot. Left to sit for about half an hour while Enys weeded the over grown veg garden because I think she despaired of me ever doing it . I squeezed out the leaves, added 1 tablespoon of washing soda so the water went from a sherry colour with a blue tinge to a dark green. I started to beat the water with a whisk and the water went turquoise. I added 1 teaspoon of thiourea dioxide-this is quite a lot but I always reckon that the water is full of oxygen after all the whisking to precipitate the indogotin and needs it. I had to heat the vat up again as it had gone cold but after another 20 minutes it had gone a clear greeny yellow and dyed 50g of merino 18.5micron a nice blue.

Within one hour of picking I had bright yellow, blue and green fibres. Not bad for a "slow" process. Not only was the colour pretty quick but it only took me a few minutes to prepare the dye baths.In both cases while Enys and I were having a cup of coffee,one at the start of her visit and one at the end!


  1. Beautiful colours. I wish my garden had enough space and light to grow these plants... It would be so satisfying :)

  2. Whereabouts are you?You can sometimes find golden rod growing wild.-But yes I am very fortunate.

  3. we have a few small patches of goldenrod along the road - as long as the local council doesn't do trimmings at this time of the year! lucky you - I wish somebody took pity on me with the weeding - no such luck, I am afraid:(( you can always reward Enys with a nice felt picture:))

  4. All Enys usually gets I am afraid is a nice cup of black coffee! Something we are both addicted to
    When we planted the dye garden I asked for Golden rod and Enys said-you want goldenrod you will have goldenrod! And sure enough what we have had has spread from two plants. However it is such a fabulous colour and so light fast-what more could a dyer ask for!

  5. Have you worked with Alkanet? it's driving me mad! I wanted to get purple but only got gray