Monday, July 11, 2011

A Dyeing Experiment With Dandelions

I read that you can dye yarn with dandelions, so I thought I'd give it a try. I know that if you use the blossoms, you get a nice yellow color. However, I had no blossoms. I'd heard from some source (that I conveniently don't remember) that if you dye with the roots you get a purple color. So I spent the morning digging up the garden.
Vyvyan helped
Since this time I would be doing natural dyeing, I would need a mordant. I used the recipe from Jackie Fee's Sweater Workshop, which I've been reading constantly.
I wound my ball into a skein, this time looking into how I'm supposed to tie the knots. (last time I ended up with white spots where the strings were)

I didn't do the best job in the world.
But it still turned out okay.
Then I looked at my bounty from the backyard.
I had to remove the leaves from the roots, first.
I decided to dry them out as well, so I could make dandelion tea and still feel good even if the dye failed.

Then I chopped up the roots and got dirt all over the kitchen.

Then I gave the roots a rinse, and put them out to dry for a while. I don't know why I did that. I really couldn't find any comprehensible way to dye with roots on the internet, so I was kind of just winging it. I decided halfway through drying them that it probably didn't matter if they were dry or not, considering I was just going to boil them. And besides, they had to soak overnight.

The roots looked disgusting when added to water.
 I let the roots soak, and also let the yarn absorb the mordent, by letting it boil for a while and letting it sit overnight.
 The next morning I boiled the dandelion roots for TWO hours. I had to add water to make up for what was lost in evaporation.
When they came out they were awfully soggy.
The color of the water was unconvining.
I let the yarn and the mordant and the dandelion root liquid soak and boil for 20 minutes or so with no change whatsoever.
Finally, I said sod it all and dumped some vineger and food dye in there.

So I spent hours and hours pulling weeds out of the yard, de-leafing the roots, washing the roots, chopping the roots, soaking the roots, boiling the roots, and waiting for something to happen. And nothing happened.
But the yarn came out pretty.

And I'm making a Gir hat with it.
This is the end of my Natural Dyeing adventures for some time- at least until I read a good book on the subject or have any idea whatsoever of what to do.
Happy Knitting!
PS: tomorrow is another video review ;)


  1. What a disappointing outcome! I've been reading online that dandelion roots are supposed to make a brilliant red dye. That didn't even get close!

  2. What a shame! I wonder if using roots from older plants would have worked better? I know for some other dyes derived from roots, older plants have more color.

  3. In my experience you want to smash the roots and let them oxidize a bit before dying with them. You'll know they are ready becuse the color of the roots will change but generally the dye is pretty weak and it takes alot of roots.


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