There were four of us that shared the pots. We worked with onion skins and goldenrod with an alum mordant. We used different (breed) wool, cotton and silk for our fibers.
Several species of Solidago (goldenrod) may be used for natural dyes. My husband collected the plants for me, and I didn't take the time to identify them. There were a few round areas on the stems of some of the plants, which I recognize to be galls. These are made by a tiny fly that lays its eggs inside the stem of the plant. Folklore tells of people carrying these galls in their pockets to keep the rheumatism at bay...so I slipped a few in my pocket...just because.
Some recipes call specifically for only flowers to be used. There are also some recipes that call for the roots or leaves, depending on what color you wish to extract from the plant. In the interest of time, I simply cut the tops off the flowers. I did not crush or bruise the flowers, but stuffed them into the homemade "teabags" that Grace had put together, and set them in the turkey roaster with enough water to cover.
At one point, we took the remains of a previous dyepot, and the alum premordant bath, and dumped it into the turkey roaster. You may be thinking that we didn't follow the recipe very carefully, and you would be correct.
Some of the fun that comes out of dye day is "winging it". It is OK to wing it, as long as you don't ever expect to duplicate your results. Since natural dyes seem to vary from one year to the next (depending on the growing season) I don't expect to duplicate the results. There are some things that it is important to take into consideration...for instance the ratio between wool and alum. If you use too much alum, you wind up with "sticky" wool. I do enjoy color, but not at the expense of loosing the handle of the fiber.
Some of us double-dipped. ..or a goldenrod base with an over-dye of onion skins. I had premordanted (is that a word?) my wool and silk the day before. The wool I was using, Miss Ewenice, came from my TDF prize.
I warp-chained the roving and my silk, so that some areas would not absorb as much color as other areas. The wool and the silk were stuffed into panty-hose bags, so they would be full of bits of onion skins or goldenrod flowers.
The results, while similar, were unique. The most fun of dye day is seeing what comes out of the pot...depending on how long you let it simmer...or what you started with...those subtle nuances are always fun to see and make note of.
Making notes of results and testing samples are also part of the experiment for me.
I had to wait a few days for my wool and silk to dry before I could work with them...my fingers twitched to spin and knit up some samples to see what the yarn would look like, how it would behave etc.
The notes will be tucked away, along with ideas for intended projects to be made from the yarn. Work for another day....
For now...the results are sitting in my basket, for me to glance at as I walk past on my way to do other chores...
...a nice memory of an afternoon spent with friends and fiber.