Naturally Dyeing Yarn with Marigolds

Marigold Natural Dye Kit
Kits to dye yarn with organic dried marigolds.

If you are 100% new to the art of natural dyeing… or if you need a dye that will give you great color every single time, marigolds are the dyestuff you want. They are plentiful, forgiving, work just about as well dried as fresh, and give an amazing mustard yellow.

You probably recognize marigolds as the cheerful annuals available in the spring and early summer from every single garden store. There are several different types known by different names; African, French, Mexican and so forth, but as long as you are in the genus Tagetes you are good to go.  They are super easy to grow, and I like to plant them along borders, or even mixed in my veggie garden!

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So enough about growing, how do we dye? The dye procedure is similar to many flower-based extraction dyes, and I use alum mordanted yarn (don’t want to make your own? Click here for the kit!). Unlike other dye processes, once you have all your materials ready you can have a yellow skein of yarn in about 45 minutes. All of the following directions can be used for either fresh or dry blossoms. Use about 1/3 to 1/2 the weight of your yarn or fabric if using dried blossoms (purchase some here!) and about an equal amount of fresh blossoms to weight of fiber.

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Simmer flowers for about half an hour to extract a lovely deep gold color, then strain off the liquid. I like to compost the spent flowers!

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The wetted yarn or fiber is then simmered in the dye for 15 to 30 minutes. A longer simmer may produce a deeper color but it may be more dull. Keep the heat low – somewhere between steaming water and a simmer. You will notice that the dye bath becomes more clear (it won’t clear all the way though!) and the yarn will have a lovely gold tone when lifted from the bath.

 

I always allow my skeins of yarn to cool, then rinse in rainwater with a final rinse with a Eucalan soap or similar before hanging the skein to dry.

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As with all natural dyes, different shades are achieved with different yarn types or modifiers such as iron dips. All naturally dyed yarn is also best stored out of the sun to retain its most vibrant color.

Interested in trying the process? Purchase organic dried marigolds! Want a complete kit including detailed directions and 50gm of mordanted worsted yarn? Click here!

Did you try dyeing with marigolds? Do you have some tips for me? I’d love to hear from you below, or come join me at www.knittyvet.etsy.com or the Facebook Group bit.ly/GardenYarn or at the KnittyVet Instagram to chat!

One of the easiest natural dyes out there, marigolds give a bright, cheerful yellow on almost all fiber types!
One of the easiest natural dyes out there, marigolds give a bright, cheerful yellow on almost all fiber types!

Glorious Green (and Yellow) from Rudbeckia

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Hello all! While we are waiting for the KnittyVet Etsy shop to reopen on Tuesday Sept. 12 with the new yarn update, I thought I’d share my process for dyeing with Rudbeckia. Call them Black Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Gloriosa Daisies, or whatever, many folks have asked me if these pretty yellow or orange flowers really make green yarn. The answer is yes, absolutely*! Want to try dyeing with dried blossoms? Click here!

(*You’ll get the best greens with fresh blossoms and superwash yarn… but very yummy yellows can be achieved with dried blossoms and non-superwash!)

These flowers are a great native prairie species that bloom from mid to late summer and self seed if the flower heads are left to mature. My bed of Rudbeckia showed up after I planted some prairie flower mix… and I’m so glad they did.

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The dye procedure is similar to many flower-based extraction dyes, and I use alum mordanted yarn. It is a several day process though to extract maximum color!

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First I gather a good bucketful of blossoms and dump them in a dye pot. Next I pour over boiling water and let that sit overnight. The next day I boil for 1 or 2 hours, then let sit some more… either a few more hours or even overnight again. At this point we have a dark red/brown liquid that can be poured off from the spent blossoms.

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The wetted yarn or fiber is then simmered in the dye for 1 hour. I always allow my skeins to sit overnight to pick up the most color.

Different shades are acheived with different yarn types or modifiers such as copper or iron dips. I’ll have a few skeins for sale such as the one on the right above come Tuesday! Come join me at www.knittyvet.etsy.com or the Facebook Group bit.ly/GardenYarn or at the KnittyVet Instagram for more!

If you would like to try dyeing with some organically grown dried flowers click HERE!

Have you wanted to give natural dyeing a try? How about using Rudbeckia, a beautiful North American native flower.
Have you wanted to give natural dyeing a try? How about using Rudbeckia, a beautiful North American native flower.

Flower Eco Printed Cotton Shirt

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For the 4th of July this year we decided to start a little project with some of the fresh flowers in our yard and a cotton t-shirt. I had previously prepared the shirt by following the directions for mordanting cotton with alum outlined in Wild Colors by Jenny Dean. Despite some excitement over the sumac tannin solution turning blue, that went well enough, and I’ll blog about that process at some other point.

We started with our prepared shirt, pre-soaked in cool water. Next came a garden raid, picking flowers and leaves. What all did we pick? Yellow prairie coneflower, roses, yarrow, strawberry leaves, hardy geranium leaves, calendula, yellow cosmos, zinnia, jewelweed, geranium blooms, mint, and bee balm oh MY!

I had read that you should cover about 50% of the space with dye materials but, well, we got carried away. The next step was tightly rolling the shirt and plants onto a stick, then tying in place. We used an un-treated cotton string.

We popped the shirt-on-a-stick into the steamer for about 2 hours.

July eco print shirt wrappedThen came the hardest part – waiting while everything dried and set. We made it about 2 days before we couldn’t stand it anymore and unrolled the shirt. The flowers had mostly faded, imparting amazing colors and patterns onto our cotton. We waited just a little more for the whole thing to dry completely, then held our breath and rinsed in cool water. There was less color leakage than I’d expected, and the patterns were still fantastic. We were amazed by the wide range of colors from our mix of flowers, especially some dots of blue. I’m still not sure what gave that fantastic blue. I think some of the iris stayed blue?? Anyhow, E loves her shirt, and proudly exclaims that she made it herself to anyone who asks. Three more cotton shirts… we can’t wait!July eco print shirt front

Have you used flowers to contact dye a shirt? How did it go? Any tips or tricks? Share below!