Dyeing with Dandelions, part 1

Dandelion heads in the dyepot.
I have to admit, I have never understood the appeal of a manicured lawn and find grass boring. It could be due to this or my laziness that I allow dandelions to grow freely in my yard, much to the dismay to my neighbors. I love dandelions, they are bright and beautiful and are one of the first glimpses of the warm summer days to come. Spring started late this year so the dandelions didn't start popping up until the beginning of April, but within a week of the first flower they were everywhere so now seemed a good time to try out their dye capabilities.

I use mason jars for the copper and iron
baths. They are marked so I can reuse
them in future dye experiments.
I read a bit about dandelion dyes before I started so I knew that the results would be yellows, greens and browns. I decided to experiment a bit with dye concentrations so instead of sticking with the standard 1:1 ratio of dyestuff to fiber I did an additional 2:1 batch to see how deep the colors would go. I am only dyeing with the dandelion flowers this time around so after gathering the dandelions I decapitated them and weighed the heads. Dandelions need to be used fresh and according to one thing I read, the best color is achieved later in the season when they are getting more sun (it has been rainy and overcast here for a few weeks now so I might try another batch later in the summer to see if that actually does make a difference.) To make the dye liquor, I boiled the dandelion heads for 30 minutes, removed them from the liquid and then threw in my mordanted fibers to simmer for about 40 minutes and let them cool overnight before rinsing.
Final results- alum mordant, alum mordant with copper bath, alum mordant with iron mordant.
Now the specifics- I mordanted all of the sample skeins in alum and cream of tarter (12% alum, 6% cream of tarter.) The first skeins of each set were dyed with a 1:1 dyestuff to fiber ratio and the second skeins in each set were dyed with a 2:1 dyestuff to fiber ratio. I am absolutely in love with the lighter version of the green and plan to try some larger skeins. 

Next week I will dye with the leaves, stems and flowers of the dandelion to see if I can get more greens. 

1 comment:

Julia said...

Hi Robyn, I'm writing you to ask you for permission to use one of your pictures in my post "10 Types of Planner and Journals". The post is already published, but I can delete your pic if you want. As you can see, I put a link to your blog under the image.