Tag Archives: plants to dye with

Measuring the Progress of Plants

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On Saturday, I went into the garden fairly early.  It was going to be hot and humid (imagine that Minnesota!) and I wanted to make sure all of my plants were in the ground and watered before the mini heat wave came.  Then another bright idea came to me.  I would measure the growth of some of my dye plants to see their growth weekly.  Plus, seeing their growth would allow me to understand how these plants grow, the rate at which they grow, etc.

These are my first measuresments taken on Saturday, June 9th.  The next measurements will be on Saturday, June 16th.  Plants with an * by them were planted by seed.

Anyway, on with the show:

Gypsywort 4.5”
Indigo,   False 9.75”
Dyer’s   Knotweed 8.75”
Dyer’s   Broom 10.75”
Indigofera 2.5”
Baptista   Australis 3”
Amaranthus   Hopi Red Dye #1* 3.5”
#2* 1.5”
#3* 2.75”
Woodruff* 1.5”
Safflower   #1* 8.5”
#2* 7.5”
#3* 9”
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Daffodils Spring Forth Yellow

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Daffodils Spring Forth Yellow

On a recent trip to my parents home, my husband cut down a few trees, trimmed a few trees, and I was the beneficiary of plant material that I will use in my dyeing experiments!

One tree that was cut down was a silver maple.  The tree had just burst with seeds, those fun little helicopters that have entranced children for ages.  (Okay, I am also amazed by them and could watch them fall from the sky for hours).  I grabbed handfuls of the seed bunches and piled them into my paper grocery bag.

I also collected daffodils that had been smashed by falling tree limbs and branches.  There weren’t too many, but I was able to gather a few more the following weekend when the daffodils were at the end of their bloom time.  My first batch of flowers had been soaking for a week, and I simply added the new flowers in.  I didn’t add anymore water because I had added too much the first time.  I brought the dye batch to a slow simmer and allowed it to simmer for 35 minutes.  I don’t really know how I came up with 35 minutes, but it is all an experiment with me!

Instead of throwing out the mushy leftovers from the daffodil dye bath, I decided to use the vase full of dyeing daffodils (did I mention my mom has a plethora of daffodils in her yards?).  I plucked off the flower heads and added them to the dye pot as well.  I have to admit that the mushy daffodils looked a little like cat vomit, but at least it didn’t smell like it!  I added cold water to the dye pot and will bring it to a slow simmer for 30 minutes (experimenting once again!).

As much as I would love to report the colors I achieved on wool, I cannot.  My next experiment is going to be in using roving to dye and then spin the yarn.  Did I mention that I have never spun wool before?  I am teaching myself with a drop spindle.  I might just end up taking a class at Silver Creek Cabin, a yarn store in Buffalo, MN.

My next post will hopefully contain some results from the helicopters and daffodils.  Cross your fingers as I am crossing mine!