Dyeing Wool With Daffodil flowers & Ivy Berries
I’ve been having a great time in this beautiful warm sunny weather we been having the last few weeks here in the Dyfi Valley. I have spent a lot of time in my new dye kitchen in the garden… I built a covered area in front of my work shed to put my cooker in so I now can dye the wool in any weather. This spring has been lovely, with lots of spring flowers putting on a great show after the weeks of rain that we had at the beginning of the year. But now the plants have got growing & the green leaves are returning the valley is beginning to look beautiful again in the sunshine. In the last week or so the swallows, house martins have returned to their usual spot on the phone wires down the lane that leads to the river. I have also finally heard the cookoo who has heralded the end of winter & brought a tuneful song to the garden as I sit skeining yarns for the dye pot. It has been very relaxing amid all the uncertainty of the Pandemic that we are all experiencing at the moment. This new routine has been a welcome element to my daily life & my natural dyed weaving kits are now getting a fresh look with this seasons colours.
In the dye pot so far I have used Red & Yellow onion skins (to good effect), daffodil flowers, ivy berries (gave a nice surprising colour), Tumeric spice (which I added far too much), comfrey which I didn’t like very much & I found in a jar some mushroom dye which I did last year & that gave a nice rust-brown colour. I have to say I had forgotten how much fun it is to experiment with different plants & kitchen scraps. I love to see what colours I can get out of them, as often the colour that is in the pot is not the colour that comes onto the yarn once it has been washed
I have never used Ivy berries before I always thought that they would give a dull black or grey but after stumbling across a Pinterest post I thought I would give them a go as seen as we have so many berries in the garden this year. This dye surprised me many times as when I put the berries into the pot it looked like it was going to give me a greenish colour. When they were boiled up the water was a lovely rich brown-red colour. I added the yarn & what I thought was a teaspoon of Alum but turned out to be a teaspoon of citric acid; then when I took it out of the pot it looks almost black & I thought oh well that’s the colour I thought I was going to get. But then when I washed it I got this beautiful soft blue/green almost indigo dye colour which at first I didn’t like but now it dry I have fallen in love with it. I have kept the liquid that was left as there is still quite a bit of colour in it so I will do another batch of yarn with what’s left. I still have berries left in the garden so I will try another dye-pot with a teaspoon of Alum this time & see if I can get that rich red colour as that was a beautiful colour.
I love using daffodils just as the flowers are starting to fade, they give an amazing soft yellow that seems to glow in the sunshine like a daffodil flower in the sunlight. I was so taken with the colour last year that I dyed a cotton skirt in the dye-pot with the wool. I have washed it once or twice & it does seem to have held onto its colour quite well over the winter, but the beauty of natural dye is that if the colour fades I can always pop it back into the dye-pot to darken the colour again. I used Alum in the pot again as a was also adding wool but this didn’t seem to affect the colour on the cotton, in fact, it turned out pretty much the same as it did on the wool.
I would like to dye more clothes with daffodils but I didn’t do that this year. The yellow didn’t seem as deep as last year, not sure weather I picked the flowers too early or weather it was due to the dry warm weather we were having in the month that they flowered but the colour was definitely more muted than it was last year.