Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dandelion Dye...

I spent some time with the buzzing busy bees in the dandelions this morning. The area what's supposed to be front lawn looked like a yellow carpet from the amount of sunny flowers dancing their spring joy. So I harvested 8 oz. of blossoms and set about dyeing 4 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester top. It's an experiment, being my first time coloring with natural plant material.

Just after I started boiling the blossoms, 2 crab spiders made an appearance at the top of the cauldron. I was able to remove them before they became part of the dye bath. It's their lucky day. I like the smell of the boiling blossoms; there's a trace of honey in it. At the end of the cooking I strained the liquid and set the dye bath aside.

The inside of the dye pot picked up a good dose of color!

The BFL is mordanted with alum. It was pre-mordanted by sitting in a simmering bath with a tablespoon of alum for over an hour. Unfortunately I don't own a big enough pot. I hope the color will distribute somewhat evenly given that the wool was crowded. I did not stir it for fear of felting, but I did gently turn it a few times with the care I would give to an egg yolk.

This is the wool just before getting dunked for a good long soak. And no, this is not the dye pot, it did have a bit more room than this, but still, not enough I'm afraid.

The heat was just now turned off under the dye pot and the wool will sit in the bath until tomorrow morning. I know I will get some color. The concerns are clarity and good distribution. As I was looking at the blossoms boiling I wondered if a clearer yellow would be obtained if the calyx were removed from the flower? Something to try in the future.

Dandelions, poor under rated things, are a wonder. Besides their medicinal and dyeing value they are quite an awesome spectacle. There is no better proof of intelligence in nature than a dandelion blossom, it seems to me. There is insight to be had by pondering them. I've wondered over them on many occasions and it never ceases to amaze me: When a dandelion blossom matures, each seed is attached to a parachute--a lighter-than-air conveyance. This is astounding. It means the dandelion plant is informed about the wind. And it always boggles my mind. The plant knows about the wind! If the plant didn't know that the wind would carry it's seeds afar if they were light enough, it wouldn't spend energy crafting paragliders for them all. Ah, the beautiful awesomeness and wonder of life.

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