Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creative ways with weeds - Using weeds to create dyes

I was poking around on the internet this morning and found another great gardening blog that I wanted to share. It is called Green Gardening with Ann Lovejoy and is written in Bainbridge Island, WA.

Ann's post entitled Creative Ways with Weeds points out another wonderul way to recycle garden "waste". Ann uses "weeds" to make dyes for her knitting projects.

Here is an excerpt from this wonderful post:

I also spin yarns for use in many projects, and one of my great pleasures is to dye yarn and fabric with natural dyes. I find it utterly fascinating to experiment with natural dyes, turning plain wool into lovely, delicate shades of green and gold, rust and pale orange, gold and soft yellow.

Putting Noxious Weeds To Work 

What does this have to do with morning glory? Besides adding great tilth to my compost, it makes a marvelous dye for protein fibers like wool and silk. Without any color fixer (mordant), natural yarn simmered in a morning glory infusion will turn a soft yellow. With alum as a mordant, the yarn will be a clear yellow. Add a touch of chrome and you’ll get a lively golden yellow. Copper makes the dye greener, while iron deepens it to a rich olive green. 

Many of my dye plants of choice are noxious weeds; not just morning glory, but ivy, Scotch broom, Canadian thistle, horsetail, and many more. It is amazingly satisfying to free a tree from its strangle hold, then cook up a big batch of the removed ivy. It smells quite sweet, rather like asparagus when cooking, and the resulting broth makes a gentle green yarn that is really beautiful. Read More

After finding that article, I spent quite a bit of time reading Ann's other posts. Her writing style is beautiful and personal and reading her posts made me feel like I was having a conversation with a new gardening friend. Here are some more great posts of hers that I think you will enjoy:

Getting the Garden Ready for Winter
Easy Care Garden Tips for Fall
What a Wonderful Day! - Adventures in mushroom hunting

1 comment:

  1. As I teen I experimented with natural dyes. To my young eyes, they seemed pale, not the vibrant colors I was desiring- to my adults eyes, they are lovely pastel shades from nature. There are some colors you cannot easily obtain, but it is a delightful project, especially if you have access to wool or cotton to dye. Rodale's book of Herbs has a great chart on dye stuffs, mordants (color fixatives) and what fibers to use them on.


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