Wednesday, May 16, 2007

dandelion dye

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Not wanting to start up the old mower, the side yard is getting a little bit high. Will we be able to hold off until Memorial Day?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I gleaned the area of the dandelions...OK, maybe not all of the dandelions, but enough to fill the dye pot (er, turkey roaster)...oh, and I did share some with the rabbits.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I concocted a dye bath, following the directions from the book by Jenny Dean, to extract the color from the dandelions.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The next step involved adding the yarn (a skein of the Farmer Dave's Special I have been spinning up). The fibers needed to be mordanted first, so that they would hold the color or fix the color to the yarn. I chose alum and cream of tartar for my mordants.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The finished yarn is a soft yellow. I imagine it would have been more chromatic, had I picked more dandelions and made the dye bath a bit more concentrated. It is kick to look at the finished yarn and know that it holds the color of the spring dandelion season!


wyldthang said...

Okay, ya hooked me!! First, yes you can hold off till Memorial Day;0)!

I gotta make me some dandelion yarn(I have a bag of natural Galway).
How many heads did you pick?(like how many gallon milk jugs full?)
How much water did you use?
How much alum and cream of tartar?
Can I get alum at the grocery store?
Can I just use cream of tartar(I have that already--and the dandelions)
How long in the bath?
Any other process tips?

I want to make a hat(with a fair isle band of natural greys)--it would be so happy to wear in the depths of winter!

meresy_g said...

Oh yes! A hat dyed with dandelions! How perfect. I love this post and I love the color it turned out. I wish I had something to dye right now.

cyndy said... many heads did I pick?
as many as were in the side yard...
or about one and a half milk jugs full ;-)

I didn't measure the water, but filled it to just covering the dandelions (as if I were making jelly)

I cut the recipe that was in the book, and estimated...using about a tsp and a half of the tartar, and a tsp of alum (yes you can get it at the grocery store, it is the same stuff that you use when you make pickles)

I would not recommend using just the tartar...but you can just use the dandelions without any mordant.
Some of it may rinse off. You can try white vinegar as a post mordant.

I left the premordanted wool in the simmering dyebath (ah the advantage of a turkey roaster "thank you Judy")..for about 30 minutes, or as long as it took me to plant the fingerling potatoes (i'm a multi-tasker)...but then I shut down the heat and let it sit overnight and halfway into the next day.

Your mileage may vary ;-)

wyldthang said...

Thanks Cyndy!! Do you have any websites you like for dyeing info(I'm going to go look for some)I wonder if I can use my wild iris petals for a dye...

cyndy said...


and I think you can use the petals from your flags! I remember reading somewhere that the indians used to use it for dyeing baskets...hey maybe you could weave a basket from the leaves, and then dye it with the petals!

Pat K said...

What a beautiful shade of yellow. I think I get about three dandelions in the yard each year, so this project would be a bit beyond me. That's okay, thanks, don't offer to send me any. I rather like my non-dandelion yard. Wonder what you would find to dye with around here

judy said...

Did you save enoough for the wine? The color is lovely, do you think it is light fast?

cyndy said...

Good heavens no, I'm too busy to make wine these days....lightfast?...I hope so, the mordant should take care of that!

Dawn said...

Very pretty yellow yarn Cyndy! Interesting posting! If you run out of dandelions I can ship you some. :-)

Judy said...

Oh I love the color! I wish I had had the time to see it up close and personal like yesterday. As the kids love to blow the dandelions fluff all over I have tons of dandelions!!!!!!

Dawn said...

What did you use in the 'dye bath' besides water?

cyndy said...

the "dye bath" was just water and dandelions....sort of a dandelion tea if you will. The wool was treated to a "pre mordant" bath, and then added to the "dye bath". Lots of bathing going on it would seem!

Sue said...

Oh, this sounds like a project my daughter would love! Picking dandelions is HUGE right now! It looks like you strained out the flowers before adding the yarn? Lovely finished color.

Dawn said...

Okay on the 'tea bath' ... :-)
What did you use in your 'pre mordant' bath? Yes, quite a few baths I would say. Perhaps I could get you to write a 'Dyeing for Dummies' book ..... just for me. JK! :-)

cyndy said...

Here ya go Dawn-

Don't use any pots you would cook in ever! Use pots whose purpose is only to dye!

1. Pick yer dandelions
2. cover them with water and simmer about half an hour.(outside is nice so the kitchen will not smell, um, weird)I turned off the heat and let them steep overnight.
3. Soak your wool in plain water overnight to make sure it is soaked through.
4. Prepare pre mordant bath (also outside) of cream of tartar and alum.
8% alum or 1 3/4 tsp. per 4 oz wool. AND 7% cream of tartar or 1 1/2 tsp per 4 oz. wool. Use 4 gallons water per lb. of wool ( or you could just eyeball it like I did). Boil some water and add the alum to dissolve it, then dump in with your main water. Do the same with the cream of tartar.
5. Squeeze the water out of your wool (that has been soaking) and add to the premordant bath. Heat slowly to a simmer and hold there for about an hour. Switch off heat and let sit for another hour.
6. Strain off the dandelions and add the wool to the "dye bath" heat to simmering. ...turn heat low and keep bath warm for at least an hour...I let mine stand overnight. Rinse or shampoo to finish! Hope this helps!

Cathy said...

Oh Cyndy - how lovely! I remember using marsh mallows for dyeing - lovely orangey yellow color.

Dawn said...

Thanks Cyndy ..... I may even get up the courage to try that!

Fiberjoy said...

Wow, such a soft warm yellow! Makes me think about trying to dye. (I've been able to resist except for a couple of kool-aid forays.) Thanks for the detailed instructions on the process.

Artis-Anne said...

Oh that looks lovely I am so looking forward to natural dyeing this year . What is the blue plant you have in the top photo ?

cyndy said...

That is considered a weed, and commonly called heal all or self heal. I don't mind it, and the bees like we let it stick around until it looses all its color ;-)!

vanessa said...

cyndy, your blog posts are tiny treasures.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin