Natural Experiments

As I walked out on the back porch to drain yet another pot of wool I noticed these flowers. RedFlowersNot the “Oh, that’s pretty” sort of notice, nor the “I need to water or deadhead those” kind. It was the “Red = Color = Dye!” kind of notice. Eaten up by curiosity I ran back inside and grabbed a paper towel. Come to find out, rubbing the flower with the towel produces a shade of delightful pinky-red! Vivid and intense enough to make dyeing with it seem possible.

Needless to say I promptly forgot about wool washing (although I did get the next batch in the degreaser) and switched to natural dyeing. You can imagine my excitement. A whole new world of discovery opened up! In two minutes flat I was picturing myself discovering an as yet untried dye stuff and bursting on the natural dyeing scene on Ravelry with an amazing revelation. My blog stats would soar, I’d walk on air for days . . . and I was getting carried away. I reeled myself back in and did the obvious. I picked the flowers.

I only had five flower heads to work with, not enough for a whole pot of dye, so I decided to put a glass jar in a larger pot of hot water and heat the dye that way. But one jar doesn’t take up the whole pot. I had room for two more jars. That meant that I got to come up with two other things to try! The goldenrod was a no-brainer, but I got stuck for the third. Then I thought about trying out hydrangea leaves and smashed one up to see what it did. It left nice yellow green stains on a paper towel so I picked about an ounce of leaves and trundled them inside. HydrangeaLeaves

I wound up leaving the flower heads in cold water to see if that affected the color any (and to float out any bugs that were hiding.) This didn’t seem to help color-wise, but I did get rid of some little white bug that could float.

I put my new mortar and pestle to use and smashed up the two fresh dyestuffs. Oh, and by the way, it worked superbly. I had to be very careful not to go on a “things to crush up” rampage. It was so much fun! But anyway, back to the dyeing.

The red flowers affected the water at once. As did the goldenrod. Here’s what it looked like.

The recipe I have calls for simmering the dyestuffs for 45 minutes to an hour. I obeyed, trying to distract myself so I wouldn’t hover over the pot…

(to be continued)

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