There are always dye plants to find--even in Winter, but one of my favorite times for dye plants is Autumn! In my shop, I tend to use more standard dyes--ones that I know will last and that are readily available throughout the year, but in the past, I loved to dabble more often with stuff right from the woods or the yard or the side of the road. When I started to run out of my yellows a couple of weeks ago (Osage Orange sawdust from a woodworker in Missouri and dried weld from England), I had to improvise. For weeks I had been driving around enjoying the bright golden yellows of the goldenrod. How lovely! If only I had time to harvest some.....if only I had some fiber to dye. Suddenly, with my standard yellows run out and waiting for more to arrive, I just had to take the chance. "Pull over in that parking lot, please." I asked my husband. He already knew what I was going to do. Grabbing a plastic grocery bag from the car, I walked across the road to a vacant lot behind a local gas station. It was late in the season. Most of the goldenrod blooms were spent. I knew from experience that the earlier blooms can yield an almost neon yellow. I didn't want that bright of a yellow, but had I come too late? Were the remaining blooms still going to give me enough color? Carefully picking through the briers and raspberry canes, I just broke off the freshest looking blooms. As I picked, I thanked the plants and I thanked the earth for these gifts. I wrapped my scarf around my neck to keep warm and keep the scarf from getting caught on the prickers. Later, my daughter and husband who watched from the warm car would comment that wearing my plant dyed scarf, I had blended right in with the flowers and shrubs that had surrounded me. At one point, they even had trouble picking out where I was in the lot. When my bag was full, I headed back to the car.
Later that evening, I pored over several of my dye books. I had some notes from about 12 years ago on goldenrod. I had drawn a yucky face--"early blooms are too neon" was the comment. I checked with a number of sources, and with a bit of renewed confidence, I began my experiment the next morning. I boiled the flowers for several hours--thanking them again before and after boiling. I was pleasantly surprised! I dyed up some Merino rovings. The rovings on the top rack that are green or yellow were done with the goldenrod. I dyed them all yellow first and then gave some of them a dip in the indigo. I plan to use some of these rovings for my Phatfiber samples in November. Can't tell yet--I need to card them up first ;D
So now I'm thinking I need to take a fresh look at new sources. I've already experimented with black beans (great information in the natural dye groups on Ravelry for those interested). I'm going to try and continue to look at the world around me for long lasting dye sources closer to home. Should be fun! Happy Autumn, Y'all!