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dyeing with invasive species?  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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I got a message from a friend that I need to harvest every broom flower I can find.  I cut the branches, strip the flowers (some leaves are okay too), then bag them up and put them in the freezer.  When there's enough, she's going to teach me how to dye with them. 

I don't know what colour broom flowers will give, but I'm guessing a yellow or green.  It's great motivation to reduce the number of broom seeds we will have this summer.  It's a somewhat nasty plant and quick to spread. 

It got me thinking, what other invasive species can we use as dye plants?
 
Michael Newby
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I know that Dyer's Woad is considered invasive in most states here in the US.  I've only read about the process but I guess it was a very common source of blue dye before the advent of synthetic dyes. 

All About Woad has a lot of information on using woad.

Some chunky wool dyed with woad:


The Dyer's Woad plant:





 
r ranson
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Queen Anne's Lace is another invasive here.  Gives a warm lemon yellow colour when used with alum mordant.

Queen Anne's Lace

 
Nicole Alderman
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I thought I'd start looking up all my most hated weeds and see if people dye with them, starting with bindweed--which is used as a dye to make a lovely light yellow!


http://foxryde.blogspot.com/2013/06/dyeing-with-bindweed-really.html


http://pink-thatcraftybitch.blogspot.com/2014/11/plant-dyes-bindweed.html

It also makes a blue-grey when an iron pot is used, according to https://www.interweave.com/article/weaving/dyeing-with-bindweed/. Found a picture of it, here



Many bindweed vines, Convulvulus arvensis, were gathered to make a big batch of dye-bath (the same way as last summer, except I used a stainless-steel pot instead of aluminum for the first step of simmering). The strained dye-bath was then divided between two other pots -- one rusty iron, one stainless steel. I immersed identical fibers -- silks, wool, cotton (pre-mordanted in soy milk) and linen -- put the lids on the pots and waited two months.




Looks like one lady makes a business out of selling yarns dyed with weeds. One of which is "rabbit weed" (makes a bright yellow). More info here: http://farmingfortcollins.com/fox-ryde-gardens-makes-useful-plants-shineg/

In Sheron’s dye gardens, you’ll find goldenrod, Japanese indigo, dyer’s broom, coreopsis, agrimony root, madder, rabbit brush, bindweed, Russian thistle, and ragweed. This woman is fearless about picking something, putting it in a pot and seeing what happens. But her fearlessness is tempered with experience – she’s been dyeing since 1972. I was amazed at the colors she achieves, using individual plants or combinations to experiment with color. Bindweed dyes her wool a soft lemon yellow, while rabbit weed creates a more vibrant shade. She uses her own Japanese indigo for blue and green shades.



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Nicole Alderman
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Another quote, this time about French broom and wooly thistle https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/natural-textile-dyes
Burgess even likes to look for invasive species as sources for color, and she's often used French broom and wooly thistle, invasive plants that are overtaking wildlands and national parks in California.

"Our national parks are all spraying [them] with herbicides from Dow and Monsanto," she says. "One of my responses is to pick that plant and find a use for it." Wooly thistle produces an almost neon yellow, while French broom "makes a great sage green."


Looks lkie creeping buttercup makes a nice dyem too. From http://www.eattheweeds.com/buttercups/

The yellow flowers yield a light fawn dye if alum is used as a mordant, green with chrome as the mordant, and yellow with tin as the mordant. Mordants set the color on the fabric.


I'll see if I can find some pictures.
 
Nicole Alderman
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