On my list of things to do has been natural dyeing. I’ve done it before a couple of years ago. Once with avocado pits, which produced a very dusty pink/tan which I then ended up over-dyeing a few times. I also tried a few different dyes that I created by placing plants in jars with water and leaving them out in the sun to extract the dye. It was fun to experiment.
This time I decided to try marigolds.
I will admit I felt a little bad about picking them for the purpose of creating dye. I had read a post on Flora+Fiber that explained the steps for dyeing with marigolds. When I weighed the marigolds I realized I didn’t have enough to make dye for the 50 g skein of wool I was planning to dye. I think this was about 3 grams.
So I put them on a platter and stuck them in the basement to dry. I had more marigolds that were going to bloom shortly and I knew I would most likely have enough at that point to make the dye.
They sat and dried for a week or so. Then a day came that the weather was just gorgeous and I had nothing else going on so I decided to go out and snip more flowers and add them to the dried flowers and make the dye. I didn’t weigh the fresh flowers. I guessing they were also around 3 grams since they fit in the same container as the first time. Honestly I was just excited to dye the yarn and approach it with a sense of play. What could go wrong? if it did go terribly then I could always dye it again.
The wool I had on hand was Patons Kroy yarn in Natural. I only had one skein of it and I had to wind it into a hank on my DIY niddy noddy that my husband made from an old changing table that used to belong to my sister and that we used for our kids!
You have to soak and mordant the yarn before dyeing. I read that you should use alum or soy while natural dyeing instead of acid while using synthetic dyes. I don’t think I used any mordant when I did previous natural dyeing. A mordant is used to help the dye attach to the yarn. I used 2 TBS of alum while soaking the yarn. I just randomly chose that amount which may or may not of been smart.
While the yarn was soaking I added water to the pan and placed it on the stove to heat it. The color started coming out of the flowers and stems pretty quickly. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for maybe 30 minutes. I turned it off and let it cool until it was just warm. Normally I would let it cool all the way but I was not patient. I skimmed out all of the flowers but there was definitely still plant matter in the dye. I should of strained the dye but I knew that the stuff would come out while rinsing the yarn so I didn’t worry too much about it. I added the yarn and again brought it to a simmer. I only let it simmer for maybe 10 minutes and then shut it off and let it cool down a bit. The dye bath didn’t exhaust which I think is common when natural dyeing. I took the yarn out and hung it outside to cool down more. Once the yarn cooled off I rinsed. It took about 6 or 7 rinses for the water to be clear. I’m not sure if that is just the nature of marigold dye or I needed to use more alum to affix it to the yarn. It still came out a beautiful yellow color and I plan to knit it up into shortie socks. I guess time will tell if the color will fade and if it does I’m okay with it.
If you’re interested in learning more about botanical dyeing there’s tons of resources out there.
*I’ve borrowed this book from the library before. It’s beautiful and informative. The author also teaches a class on Creativebug.
*I haven’t read this book but I like how it looks in the previews.