None of my natural dye experiments thus far have blown me away quite like Goldenrod. As with Queen Anne’s Lace I knew to expect some yellows, but the colors were seriously deep and vibrant.queen anne's lace goldenrod3

I realize that sort of tie dye effect that you can see on some of these photos can be avoided by stirring more and putting less in the dye pot. The thing is I like that look. If it weren’t there you might just think I bought this yellow fabric. To me it gives that imperfect variation that I like to see in homemade.goldenrod2 goldenrod1

The one piece in that last picture that is pale is cotton that had not been mordanted. Obviously the silks took the color better, but even the pale piece of cotton will be nice for something.

I have to mention the goldenrod spiders. I’m not actually sure what their proper name is, and you wouldn’t even know they were there if you didn’t throw your goldenrod in a pot of water. They blend in so well with the plant. But check out the edge of the pot. They started coming out as soon as I got the dye bath started. If you don’t like spiders, don’t go picking goldenrod, because there were tons of these guys!

goldenrod spider

Natural Dyed Scarves

We seem to have recovered from last weekend’s craft fair. I sold 9 of my 15 scarves and Carson sold all three of the turned lamps he had ready! Today I’m going to show you the various scarves I had for sale and tell you about the colors.

Let’s start with the solids. I had 6 scarves that were solid colors, but only 5 are in this picture. The dark green up top is from poke berries. That bath was such fun. I should have photographed the items fresh out of the bath. They were the most vibrant purple you can imagine! The more I rinsed the more the purple washed out until I was left with this green. Honestly I’m a fan of green so I didn’t mind. Also it was only the silk/wool that took the poke berries this way. The cotton scarf I had in that bath just went grey, which I will show you further down. The grey in this shot, which looks a little greener than it really is, came from a black bean bath. The golden one at the bottom is from oak leaves and the pale yellow is from pear leaves.


I really thought I would be content with just getting beautiful solid colors from the natural dyes and possibly adding some hand stitched touches (which I still plan to do at some point) but it turns out I couldn’t help but think about pattern and design. Using iron liquor, coconut oil, a spray bottle, and an antique cookie press I got quite a few different looks. I’m so glad I did because people really liked these.

Here are scarves that all came from an acorn bath. The dark grey is the result of the iron liquor applied in different ways. On the far right is the other solid scarf.


Here’s a close up of a couple of cotton infinity scarves.


These scarves from top to bottom are tea, pear+sumac berries+iron, and poke berries+ iron.


The one dyed with tea was wrapped in tea bags, dipped in boiling water and then left for a couple of days. Then, I unwrapped it and rewrapped and repeated the whole thing to get more color in more places. I love the water color look and can’t wait to do some more experiments with this.


The wood grain showing through this one is from the floor. I know, I’ve got to find a better place to take pictures.


Here is the other one from the poke berries. If you look closely you’ll see that it is darker along the top. That is from the iron. The bottom of the scarf is just the color from mordant and poke berries. The variations that you see on this one (and several others throughout this post) were unintentional, but I love them. I think it came from not stirring enough or having the bath too full when I did the mordant. I may try to replicate this “mistake” in the future, because it really adds interest to the scarves.


I have had such fun over the last few weeks with these baths and especially the different techniques I’ve tried. I have so many new ideas to try and I have more black beans soaking as we speak. Hopefully, I’ll be going a little slower for a while and can post in more detail about certain baths and techniques.


First Natural Dye Test: Hearts a Burstin (outer pods)

At some point in college one of my friends took a natural dye workshop. I have no idea why I didn’t take it, but I remember swooning over her notebook full of little swatches. The muted, earthy tones that you get from most natural dyes are exactly the colors I love (reason #62 that I’m ready for this silly 80’s neon craze to pass). I was in love and knew that one day I would try my hand at some natural dyes.

When we moved back to the farm last March, I knew the time had come. I’ve been gathering the materials I needed to get going and this week I did my first test batch with natural dyes!

ImageRemember those Hearts A Burstin? I saved a handful, separated the berries from the pods (? I have no idea if that is the correct term here, but it seems right) , and soaked them for about a week. The berries are still soaking waiting their turn at a test. This is what the jar with the pods looked like after one week.


The bright pink coloring was drab and the water was very murky. From this point I boiled them to extract as much color as possible.


Then I threw in a few little fabric bits. I didn’t mess with straining out the plant pieces. Since this was just a test I had no idea if I would get any color at all, or if it would actually stay on the fabric once it was rinsed.


The fabric soaked in the dye bath for about 16 hours at which point I brought it to a boil again and soaked another 12+ hours. Here is what I got.

This first picture shows silk noil. On the right is a piece that had been treated with alum (I followed the directions in Wild Color omitting the Cream of Tartar, because I didn’t have any on hand). On the left is a piece that had not been treated and they are both laying on a piece that has not been dyed.


And this picture is kona cotton. It had not been mordanted and it too is laying on undyed fabric of the same type.


The results were exactly what I expected based on what I’ve read. Animal fibers take the dye better than plant and mordants really do help.

I’m not sure if I’ll use these for dye again, but I’ve got about a year to decide since there aren’t very many left. I think the best part about using these is that the kids can enjoy gathering them with me.

Next up, I have an oak leaf dye bath going and it is looking pretty promising. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the fabric really keeps the color once rinsed. Come back next week and I’ll show you.