Dyeing with Fresh Homegrown Weld on Local Wool - First Harvest from the Garden
While we were away from home last weekend, a cat managed to break into one of the beds in the garden and caused some serious damage to one of my weld plants. After a *little bit* of swearing, I realised I could just use the broken bits as a test to see what colour I would get from the not-quite-ready plant.
I chopped the weld and added to the pot with water, which I heated to a simmer for an hour, then left to cool overnight. The next day, I strained the liquid through a muslin to remove any bits of plant material.
100g of alum mordanted wool yarn was then added to the dyepot, along with 1tsp of calcium carbonate (chalk) to increase the alkalinity. This produces a stronger yellow colour when used with weld. I then reheated the pot to a simmer for an hour, again leaving to cool overnight.
I then let the skein of yarn dry on the washing line without having rinsed it first - I’ve found that this helps the yarn retain more of the colour. Once the yarn was dry I then rinsed and washed it in a pH neutral soap.
The brightness of the yellow I managed to achieve with a weight to plant ratio of a third surprised me to say the least! I’ve struggled in the past to get the strong, nearly neon yellow colour I’ve desired with dried weld, so I opted to use weld extract powder.
Weld is my favourite dye plant for yellows - it’s the most colourfast meaning it’s less likely to fade, increasing the longevity of the finished knitwear in your wardrobe. I’ve got a few plants in my garden which I will harvest when they have matured, and I’m determined to find some in the wild too!
The smile on my face in this photo says it all - I am a proud plant mama! This is the first yarn to be dyed with plants from my garden, it’s just the best feeling.
By using plants I've grown to dye local lambswool from Fernhill Farm, which I'll knit on manual knitting machines in my Bristol studio, my vision of a super local fashion supply chain is becoming a reality.
If you’d like to learn how to dye yarn with plants and other botanicals such as weld, I’m running a workshop on Saturday 9th November. We’ll use my local wool yarn along with other sustainable British wool yarns to dye a range of colours using a variety of techniques. Click for more info…