Dyeing with Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

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I have lots of Rosemary. Even sharing it, making incense and medicinals there’s lots left over. At some point it does have to be trimmed back so I tried it out as a dye plant.

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The bottom row is what I started out with, my standard Bartlett yarn ‘natural white’, light gray, medium and dark gray. Cotton was unsuccessful.

For the dye stuff, starting with Ida Grae’s suggestions* I used fresh Rosemary 1×1 and 3×1. Simmered the Rosemary for an hour and let it cool over night.

Here are a couple of sites that describe Rosemary as a dye.

Naturally Dyeing: <http://naturallydyeing.blogspot.com/2011/05/rosmarinus-officinalis.html>

Dyeing Fabric with Culinary Herbs: <http://www.motherearthliving.com/garden-projects/culinary-herb-goes-dye-crazy.aspx>

Ida Grae points out that most cooking herbs will produce  yellows. If I can eat or use something as a medicinal I tend not to dye with it but the Rosemary here is so plentiful it’s worth trying. Same probably goes for Lavender but I haven’t tried that yet.

 

*Ida Grae / Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, 1979.

 

March 2016 Weld and Woad

Weld plant, March 2016
Weld plant, March 2016

This Weld plant popped up nearby so I put the bricks around it – my universal marker for this-is-not-really-a-weed-dont-pull-or-stomp-on.  With any luck this one will have the tenacity to survive the current drought conditions.

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Woad in yard, March 2016

This is the surviving Woad plant from last year.

Bubblegum Pink

Madder on Pearl Cotton
Madder on Pearl Cotton

I recently found a cone of white pearl cotton at a local thrift shop. The obvious thing of course was dye experiment. The usual oxalis and onion, woad overdye attempts were lighter than I’d like but sometimes that happens. (Noted the fiber weight and ratio for future attempts or avoidance.)

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Then the incident with the Madder.

I’ve always been a sort of no-pastel zone when it comes to clothes or anything that involves color. In particular I dislike pink. So, imagine my surprise at finding a pot full of pink pearl cotton. I even tried longer soaking times – up to a week, adjusted the strength and still pink.

So I have pink yarn. Either it will be dunked in woad at some future or it will be a scarf for someone who does like the color.

June-July Weld Plants

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Weld plants from June to July. Some Woad in the background.   These seem to be surviving the drought weather under tree shade.  Last year’s Weld and Woad and actually most of my herb garden didn’t survive the heat wave so this year I’m more focused and picking areas of the yard where they might survive.

For the record, mine are growing these in southern California, USA. Definitely not native to the area.  The two pictured have started blooming and not (not in the picture) haven’t taken off yet.  But even two plants can be good for dyeing since Weld is one of those wonderful plants where everything from areal parts – from the ground up is used.

More about Weld:  <http://www.wildcolours.co.uk/html/weld.html> from Wild Colors in the UK.  Good pictures and info about growing, harvesting and dyeing.

Lastly the ubiquitious Wikipedia:  <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reseda_luteola>

Back on the Woad Track

I’ve turned out to be a rather rotten blogger.  I have this idea of only writing where there is something appropriate and relevant and then somehow not getting back to it for a few months.

The plants last seen around September 14 have mostly survived.  Woad in porch planters were eaten by something.  The Woad in the yard took off though one Weld didn’t survive.  Additionally I have some more seeds in flats that will hopefully take off.

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[Woad]

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[Three Weld plants in front, the Woad nearest the tree and another Weld  behind.]

 

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[One of the Weld plants.]

Due to drought conditions – I’m in southern California – there are watering restrictions. On my street odd numbered addresses have  Mon, Wed, Fri and Sunday, before 9am and later in the evening for watering.  For awhile now I’ve been using dish (washing) water on the dye plants and they seem to be doing ok along some shade from the tree.

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My other yellow dye staple is Oxalis, aka the Weed-that-does-not-die. That one is of course did well for it’s seasonal appearance and keep a lot of bees happy while providing me with a good supply of yellow/orange dye.

Woad and Weld

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Earlier this year I stared some Woad in a planter to see how it would do.  So far it has survived the crazy weather and nibbling by local urban wildlife.  Looks like it would be possible to grow this one in planters if no yard is available.

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This area is the Weld and one Woad plant behind.  And behind that is the dead lawn.  Current drought conditions are my excuse for letting the lawn go dormant. (Nice word for letting it dry out.)  I wouldn’t have a lawn at all but I’ve been outvoted.  Since I can’t get rid of it I’m expanding the dye plants and medicinal herbs out over it a section at a time.

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One of the Weld plants with the Woad behind.

Mostly New Woad

I haven’t posted in a while.  Starting new plants and trying to regrow what I lost in the last heat wave.

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Even though my Woad plants curled up and died  there were seeds from that last batch.


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I’ve been moving them a few at a time into the yard.

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This one (above) is the growing-Woad-in-a-planter experiment. Since the roots seemed so shallow it seemed possible that it might thrive in planter.

More Woad and Weld Sans Possums

The Possums are quiet this month. (And I realized that I misspelled ‘Possum’ in my last post so now my poor spelling has been advertised planet-wide…)

The Woad in a planter however still isn’t doing well though the Woad in the ground continues to flourish merrily.
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Weld also growing.  Hand in the 2nd picture to give an idea of the size.  They are still small plants but tend to shoot up in the spring.

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I start them off with a cover of hardware cloth (wire mesh) to protect from local wildlife that like to roll and dig into new beds.  Just removed the cover this week since I think they are large enough to be safe.