Colouring with weeds

Clean fleece.  Soak in water overnight.


Approximately 140 grams Oxalis pes-caprae, more commonly known as ‘sour sob’, a common weed found in gardens, parks, reserves, etc. in Spring.  Excellent for tummy upsets, and thirst quenching when you chew the stalk. Collected these from my own garden and local park.

Soaked flowers in water overnight. Slowly brought to boiling and boiled for 40 mins.
Strained material from dye pot.
Dissolved mordant (alum) in hot water and added to dye pot.
Allowed to cool before adding 100 grams of fleece. Heated to 90 deg C and simmered for 30 – 40 mins.
Left to cool in dye bath, rinsed and laid out to dry.

Result – canary yellow.

Same dye bath, new batch of fleece, added 10 grams of crenulata sp. eucalyptus leaves, dried and achieved glorious orange fibre.

What if a couple of rusty nails are added to the dye pot with more fleece?  Iron dulls/changes the colour.  Burnt orange!

One dye pot, three very different colours, simple, easy, fun! Apologies for the poor quality photo.

What if I throw some white hand spun wool into the exhaust, with a few more crenulata leaves in the bottom of the pot and on top of the fibre…

Golden yellows, oranges, splashes of rusty orange-I love it.

Thought I might put up a page with photographs of my finished yarns. Perhaps with subcategories, such as naturally dyed fibre, chemically dyed, commercially dyed, and so on.  It may be a better record of progress and change.  A conundrum, I am really interested in plant dyes and eventually would like to concentrate in this area, however, I have a collection of various chemical dyes and commercially dyed fibres which need to be used and which are sometimes preferred by customers.  Economically, it is necessary to use these products.

Take care.

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10 Responses to Colouring with weeds

  1. ...iph... says:

    Oh my, these are gorgeous! I’d love to see the photos with subcategories–that’d be fascinating. And it’s so hard, in almost every field, to strike that perfect balance between following the thing you’re most passionate about and submitting to economic necessities or the market’s desires of the moment.

    You’re inspiring me to get some fleece and start experimenting, I have to say! On a small scale, this would be the perfect solution for finding just the right shade for the hair for the felt dolls I’m making. And perhaps at some point I’ll feel brave enough to hand-dye some yarn for an actual knitting project!

  2. Nancy says:

    Oh such gorgeous colors! To bad we can’t feel things through the computer! HA!

  3. Joei says:

    These truely are gorgeous. I’m a new spinner but have been commercial and natural dyeing for quite some time. I’m really enjoying your process and would love to see your previous results.

  4. Trace says:

    A little bit of an alkaline added after dyeing with the soursobs will change the colour to the most amazing mango.

  5. judy martin says:

    I appreciate that you gave us information on what and how you did what you did.
    The variety of yellow-orange-gold colours are wonderful here.

    • Ingrid says:

      Thank you. Actually, I tend to be a bit ‘slap dash’ and am more often found to be adding bits here and there and then forget what I did later. Probably not a good thing.

  6. Anja says:

    Beautiful results! All the fibers look so scrumptious! Thanks also for helping me see a different way of dyeing materials, I always approach it as one color from one material, your process was eye opening! (so many beautiful colors from one dye pot!)

  7. jmhaag says:

    Those are beautiful colors! I have just started natural dyeing and this is one plant I would like to try next summer!

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