yarnwench (yarnwench) wrote,

French marigolds and crushed bugs

My garden is bursting with French marigolds and I've always wanted to try my hand at dyeing with the blossoms so yesterday I gathered up enough to line the bottom of my stainless steel dye pot. Earlier in the morning I had mordanted a few skeins of wool yarn with alum and so I set about making the dye. I covered the marigolds with hot water and set it outside on a burner to come to a boil. I allowed it to boil for an hour or so and ended up with a lovely ruby colored brew.

I took my wetted skein and immersed it in the dye and set about simmering it for an hour or so. It was amazing to see the color transition on the yarn as morphed from a dull pale yellow to an amazing chartreuse.

There was still a little red dye left in the pot after I finished this skein so I added some cutch powder to it. Cutch comes from the heartwood of a tree that grows throughout Asia and creates beautiful warm browns.

After I was done dyeing with cutch I added some cochineal dye. Cochineal comes from scale insects that live on prickly pear cactus in South America and the dye has been used for hundreds of years to dye fabrics, cosmetics and food products. It's a very intense color and the half tablespoon I put in my dye pot yielded enough for three skeins of yarn to be dyed in a gradation of color with a little dye left over.

I've only done a few natural dye pots here and there so this was a fun adventure. I think I'd like to get into this a bit more. Here's a photo of my results with the three cochineal skeins on the left, followed by the marigold chartreuse and ending with the brown cutch skein.
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