I’m really a craptacular blogger. Haven’t posted since January when the Oxalis started to take off. As I have often posted, Oxalis is a pain-in-the-neck for gardens but a great dye plant. It goes rampant around January and starts to die off around May-June when the weather heats up.
January is when the Oxalis starts it’s annual invasion. As annoying as it can be – taking over the garden – it’s still my staple for yellow dye and a favorite with local bees. I let the bees have at it in the morning and pick after. By the time it starts dying off I’ll have a good supply of dried oxalis, enough for myself and to give away to other dyers.
Recipe notes here: http://www.jmjamison.com/2008/01/
[Bees in the Oxalis]
About the Woad. I haven’t written much about Woad since there hasn’t been any for awhile. Woad is not a desert plant. (Pause for a moment of duh.) My area of southern California is what some may call “reclaimed desert”. Something you can forget until the car breaks down in the San Fernando Valley in July and there is your reminder.
Two years of drought wiped out whatever Woad I still had growing. But, I still have seeds from the last plant so I’m going to try again this year. Nothing of course can wipe out Oxalis. And the bees like it.
My other on-going project will be mordanting cotton following the method described in John Liles ‘Art and craft of natural dyeing”. Lots of scouring, soaking and then mordanting, more steeping, more soaking and then you get to the actual dying.
That time of the year again. When the Oxalis makes another pass at taking over the yard. Fortunately the bees really like it and it makes a good dye for cotton and wool.
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.
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.
This was back in April the Weld started shooting up.
The tomato cage might give an indication of the height of the plant. I’ve seen them grow much taller. This one however is flowering so it’s unlikely to see more growth.
Almost ready for seed saving.
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.
This is the surviving Woad plant from last year.
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.)
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.
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>
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.
[Three Weld plants in front, the Woad nearest the tree and another Weld behind.]
[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.
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.