Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dandelion Dye!



I picked a mass of dandelions in my yard today: about half-filled a 12 qt pot. Covered with water and brought to a simmer for a while, stirring occasionally. I parked that pan outside on the patio to cool a bit.

Then found some ancient (1940's?) yarn in the stash to dye. Two 1 oz balls of white "Jumper Floss", a shetlandy-kind of wool, and a 2 oz hank of of some pinkish baby wool. One thing I remember hearing years ago was that mothproofing can interfere with natural dyes. These didn't say "mothproof" on the label. Also, I got them at thrift shops for small change, which is good when one is experimenting!

In my other dyepot, I prepared the mordant: I used about a Tbsp each of kitchen alum and cream of tartar. Brought the hanks of yarn to a gentle simmer and went off and forgot them. Came back later to a rolling boil. Oh well. The yarn seemed fine.

I poured off the mordant and rinsed the yarn in hot water and put it back in the pot. I went out and got my dandelion solution. Strained out the dandelions and put the liquid in with the yarn. I slowly simmered the yarn in the dye bath, then allowed to cool in the water outdoors for a couple hours more. Interestingly, the dandelion dyebath smelled like artichokes. The white turned a nice yellow and the pink turned a darker yellow. I'm pretty pleased with the way these turned out. I wasn't sure I would get an intense enough color saturation, but I think I did. Now I'm eager to try other natural dyes that take with non-toxic mordants. Next week, it's dandelion roots, which I'm told make purple!

20 comments:

Bezzie said...

That looks incredible! I might have to try this!!!

YarnThrower said...

WOW, that worked great! And, dandelions seem to be so abundant this year!

Any hints as to what "kitchen alum" is?

Thanks for the mini-tutorial - Very fun!

Sarah said...

Ooohhhh!

Those are some nice yellows! I'm totally trying that.

I'm interested in the natural dyes too, and heck, this one accomplishes weeding the garden at the same time!

(well when you dig up the roots).

Terby said...

That is tremendously cool. I had no idea you could do that with dandelions. I like the color, too, especially the overdyed pink.

aija said...

Amazing! What a beautiful yellow!!

Marie said...

How cool! I wonder if it would work on cotton t-shirts?

Sherry W said...

Wow. I can't wait for the dandys to come up here!!

lee said...

I thought you were going to talk about dandelion wine because that's what has been on my mind. Now I have TWO dandelion projects to try out.

Knidder said...

How cool Elizabeth! This will have to be a summer project for all the kids. Thanks for sharing it!

sgeddes said...

Great results. I like the idea of the natural dye from your yard! I'm looking forward to see what you come up with next. Someone I work with is looking to plant specific things in their garden for dying - like true indigo. Who knew you could use dandelions!

Wendy said...

Such a lovely yellow! I know people who use those bugs to dye yarn. I don't know if it is worth the trouble, looking for bugs, though. I guess if you have two willing boys to help, maybe it's a DO.

Jenny said...

Looks great! I had no idea you could do that. Looking forward to your next dyeing experiment.

Penny Karma said...

WOW! Who knew??? I'll have to try that!

Zonda said...

Gorgeous! Wow, when I think of all the dandelions I killed by plucking for my mom to put in a vase LOL!

emily said...

that is just so cool, Elizabeth! looks gorgeous-- but do you think it will fade a lot?

spaazlicious said...

Oh neat, like wooly sunshine!

Celia said...

Wow. I'm impressed. And I wondered about the fading, too.

bcatt said...

Lovely...I'm trying out dandelion flowers as a milk paint pigment as we speak. First time making flower dye and first time making milk paint, too. It's very exciting. I do have to try the roots sometime, purple being my favourite colour. Keep up the good work!

Eugenia Catroppa said...

neat!
you can get purple with onion skins
--
and yes it will work on a cotton t-shirt

Angie said...

Lovely colors! Fun color experiment, I think. :D