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Natural Dyeing with Queen Anne's Lace  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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Queen Anne's Lace is on the invasive species list here.  About 5 years ago, the first plant appeared on the roadside of our neighbourhood.  Now it's several blocks of white umbrels up and down the road.  What a great opportunity to try dyeing with it.



Daucus carota (Wild Carrot, Queen anne's lace, Carrot, Wild Carrot, Queen Anne's Lace)
Part used: leaf or flower heads
Time harvested: summer
Colour range: yellow, green
Mordant: Alum recomended

 
r ranson
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For my first attempt, I used 190g of flower heads and about 100g of handspun wool yarn mordanted in alum at 10%wof*.   Simmered the flower heads for about 45 minutes, then added the pre-soaked yarn to the flowers and kept below a simmer for about half an hour.  By then, the scent of the plants was getting a bit too much, so the whole thing went outside in the sun where it stayed steaming warm for the rest of the day.



The next morning I checked on the yarn and wasn't impressed.  So I left the yarn soaking in the dye bath for another 24 hours (turning occasionally).  The head of the sun warmed it up quite a bit during the day.  The second morning, it was much better so I rinsed it until the water washed clear and blocked the yarn** to dry and this is what I got.


The white yarn in the photo is the colour it was before dyeing.  I think the photo makes the yarn look a little more green and a little less yellow than it actually is.


I don't think I'll dye with this plant again because the smell that everyone else said was delicious, was really repulsive to me and my family.  Like chemical rich lemon soap with rotten carrots.  According to the books I read, it's supposed to smell like delicious sweet carrots with a hint of lemon.  Also, I'm not a big fan of wearing yellow.  Since my goal for these naturally dyed yarns is to find colours I want to wear as clothing, I'm thinking I need to start finding a non-yellow colour.

I could change the colour by dipping it in an iron afterbath, but I think this one is going in the Indigo pile for when I work up the courage to start an indigo vat.  Apparently, dipping less than satisfactory yellow yarns in indigo is a great way to transform the colour into beautiful greens.


*wof - weight of fibre.  10% wof would mean I used 10g of alum powder to 100g of wool. 
**I blocked the yarn because I'm using singles (unplied yarn) which get kinky if they are left to dry relaxed. 
 
r ranson
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Looking around my neighbourhood, Queen Anne's Lace is far more prevalent than I thought.  It's all along the road sides - basically anywhere that the city mower goes - along with another beautiful invasive called bachelor buttons. 

It looks like I could probably gather at least 2 kilos of QAL flowers between my home and my mailbox.  If only I had enough yarn to dye with it - and if only I liked yellow.  Maybe I'll try some with iron as mordant and see if it makes a pleasant green.

I wonder if I could dry these flowers and sell them as a plant dye to local crafters?  Market it as a way to conquer invasive species (because that's what people are interested in these parts) with natural dyes. 
 
Rara Matthews
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This looks a wonderful colour to me but I'd like to see how light fast it is. Yes - with many of my yellow I stick them in the indigo vat and it produces the most amazing greens.
The only concern I'd have about collecting wild carrot is that the flower heads look very similar to some other plants which are nasty to touch (giant hogweed) and some other poisonous ones.
 
r ranson
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Rara Matthews wrote:
The only concern I'd have about collecting wild carrot is that the flower heads look very similar to some other plants which are nasty to touch (giant hogweed) and some other poisonous ones.


A lot of other yarn people in my area have the same concern.  To me, they look completely different.  The umbels (the flower heads) look a tiny bit alike, but looking at the leaves and the build of the plant, it's actually very different.  And of course, the smell.  If you can tell the difference between a dandelion and a dock or a carrot and dill, then a guidebook to your local plants should be sufficient to keep you safe. 
 
Jane Southall
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Wild carrot has the purple flower in center.  I have a whole field of it.  Not my field, but have use of.  Beautiful color.  Yes, if you do iron, put a pic on.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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An easy way for me to remember, and tell them apart is the saying.

"The Queen has hairy legs"

Which is interpreted to mean that carrots and Queen Anne's Lace have hairy stems. Poison hemlock has smooth stems.

 
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