Saturday, March 8, 2014

An Anonymous Red Weed in My Dye Pot

I know it's been TOO long since my last dye tutorial. 
I had set a goal (that I was really enjoying) of dyeing at least once a week and posting a tutorial for you. It's amazing to me how doing something out of my normal routine had flip everything on it's head. 
This thing that got me out of my dyeing routine was a really good thing though. 
One of my favorite things to do with my husband. 
We visit his family and friends and I get to smell fresh things growing 
that I can't smell here in Maine in February. 
Ok so that was almost a month ago now 
and between the jet lag and tending to other things 
including my husband and I spending a lot of time rethinking our food habits-
we both participated in a 4 day liver cleanse to help reset our bodies. 
It was very effective and I may chatter about it here and there. 

With this New Year, 
I set a few goals for myself 
including mapping out 
and scheduling my creative time. 

That includes spending more time with my dye pots 
and plants studies. 
I don't know about you, 
but I can get side tracked- 
by anything so easily. 

Before I know it, the day is over 
and I haven't created or accomplished anything that I wanted to.
So, when I can, all my thoughts and ideas that I have 
when I wake, just before bed, in the shower, on walks, mid day- when ever, 
I try and write as many of them down. 
Then I revisit these scratchy lists 
and map out how much time I'll need and any materials I need to fetch or prepare. 

I then write it all down with a pencil on a tangible calendar- my iphone is useless for this exercise because I want to see everything at once. 
I can't tell you what scheduling these creative activities has done for me. It feels so good to plan and keep me pointed in the right direction. 

I knew I wanted to get back to my dye tutorials 
but like I can do so easily, 
I get distracted by everything else around me that needs to get done. 
Plus, since we returned home, I didn't have a good creative plan in place where I could just pick up.
I had to start from scratch.
And I was distracted by several household items to clear out. 

I was also having trouble deciding what to dye up next. 
While clearing out the mudroom, I came across these nameless red weeds
that I found in the organic apple orchard last fall. 
I've looked in books and the internet and I cannot figure out what these tall rusty red weeds are
I used them anyway. 

As they were steeping away in the water, slowly heating up, I noticed these beautiful seeds peeking through like tiny bright red pin pricks. 
I hadn't noticed them when I picked the plant last fall. 

The dye bath was a golden color. 
Normally, I may have let the fiber float around with the plant because I really enjoy the color variation that occurs when plant is touching fiber as it cooks away. 
But I knew with this plant it would be a disaster to get all those fine seeds out of my fine yarn.

I let the small strip of silk swim in there with the plant materials. 
After a few hours of simmering, I used my fine mess strainer and removed the plants saving the bath. 
I then put in my yarns and let it simmer away for about an hour. 
I did add a tiny bit of alum to the dye bath and cream of tartar- after it was cooking away. 

The first skein on the top is 100% wool
the large skein on the bottom is a blend of merino, angora and silk (!)

I may dip this in an indigo vat to create an earthy green
an logwood bath for an EVEN earthier green
my madder/ cochineal after bath for an earthy orange. 


in your dye experiments, when you get a result that your not impressed with, dip it into something else for over lapping colors. The depth of color we are able to achieve through natural dyes is (in my opinion) something that cannot be obtained with acid dyes. 
The pigments in natural dyes, to me, are still alive and this is the very reason why I LOVE using them. 

I think next time, I'll collect this plant and try an eco print. 
For all you natural dyers out there who also love to collect plants, 
I highly recommend playing with this method. 
It is fun and magical 
and gives a whole new definition to natural dyeing. 

Last night I unfolded 6 prints I put together while on my last trip to SF.
I was tickled with the results but I was hoping for more.
Later today I'll be adding to them and will share pics later :)

Stay tuned for next week when I post a natural rainbow dye tutorial
for St. Patrick's Day. 
<3 nbsp="" p="">

p.s. if you know the name of this weed, please share in the comments:)


KerrieB said...

Hi Rachel, have recently found your blog and love all of your natural dyeing techniques - but still yet to have a go. Not sure what the weed you have is but looks similar to what we have in Australia called dock(Rumex sp, not actually a native plant but an introduced weed) which has hundreds of tiny seeds along top half of plant and when dried is a reddish brown colour & also has a single deep taproot. Have read that this plant gives a similar colour to what you have from your dye bath. Hopefully you come up with the name of it soon.

Anonymous said...

6I am another Australian, and perhaps that's why this looks like dock to me too :)

Thanks for the post!

44 Clovers said...

Hi ladies, thank you so much for your comments. I'll investigate that! Delighted that I have readers from Australia:)

Kerry, If you ever want to give it all a go with the dyeing and need a bit of help, feel to free to email me with any questions, I love enabling people to try natural dyeing:)

Rachel said...

A fellow natural dyer here in Maine sent me this nice email. With her permission, I'm posting it here so others can read what she has to say about this dye. Thanks Michelle!

"Hi Rachel,
I was looking at your blog and noticed the ‘anonymous red weed’ ..still unknown to you? I believe it is a red lamb quarters that seeds and turns red in the fall. The are a few different varieties of ‘lamb quarters’ ,Chenopodium album in maine but there is an older variety that is magneta colored & grows in the fall. The leaf contains oxalic acid hence the brassy gold dye color on protein fibers.
At first it looked like yellow dock but then it looked like the stem was softer and the seeds more like lamb’s quarter. I am not positive but after seeing the dye color and the stems in the pot and seems like you harvested in the fall .

maybe you will find that weed again in the same place..send me a photo when you do if you think of it

Love the magic of plants ~ michelle"