Thursday, August 25, 2011

Getting ready to get started to do more dyeing

My available natural dyestuff collection has expanded. In addition to the already collected Lingularia flowers, Arborvitae seedpods, Mahonia berries, and cherries, I have been collecting more Coreopsis, and have also collected large bags of Perovskia blossoms and dried blue Hibiscus flowers. These last two were readily available and I have seen vague mentions of their suitability as dye plants. The Perovskia is from the humongous shrubs in my front yard and the Hibiscus flowers are from the University campus (I swear I only took the dropped flowers!). I had to compete with the bees to collect the Perovskia, yet managed to collect 12.3oz without stripping enough branches to make my harvest even noticeable (or getting stung). I may go back and collect more, since I have no information on how much is required to get usable color. The Perovskia is so aromatic that my eyes hurt for the rest of the evening. I don't think I will be simmering it inside.

Although the usually procedure is to dry dye plants, unless using them fresh, I am putting everything in the deep freeze. This is entirely a matter of practicality - I have ample space in the freezer and it is safe from bugs and felines. Not so much, space for drying stuff.

Adding to my collection, I have recently received my first Nature's Cauldron Dye Plant CSA shipment. Inside was a tantalizing array of lodgepole pine bark, fennel, comfrey root and lichen, as well as a lovely skein of rhubarb-mordanted wool. I am especially looking forward to trying the lichen.

So my next effort will be to spin up and mordant some fiber. And to get my dye journal going to record my experiments.


Laura said...

Sounds fun! I have a book I will send you (or bring down the next time I travel south - you know me and mail...).

Word of warning. Don't do the lichen inside, either. I suffered for three weeks after dyeing with some last winter. The fumes are toxic, and for those of us with allergies and/or asthma, it's not a good thing. I found the color fun, but not light fast (accidentally left a skein out where it got northern exposure - visible lightening after 3 months).

I can only imagine collecting perovskia - I'm not allergic to Great Basin Big sage, but I seem to be sensitive to culinary sage and perovskia. Hope you had benedryl!

Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labors...

Sharon said...

I'm at the spin-up stage.