It’s amazing how productive you can be during a period of unemployment.  In fact I’m busier now than when I was on the job!

While organizing my sewing/weaving studio and going through all my supplies, I happened upon the last bits of a natural dye kit I bought from Carolina Homespun years ago.  There were small bags of about 4 different dried dye plants, mordants, some plastic mesh bags and a number of other goodies. In addition, a check of my freezer revealed frozen avocado dye (from the pits and skins). I started with the avocado.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of results with avocado.  After an alum mordant and a couple of days in the dyepot, now I know why.  It turned into a lovely shade of puke.

I certainly couldn’t leave it like that! So the madder root called to me. “Send me your tired, your poor fiber yearning to be free. I will give you beautiful shades of red!”

That’s more like it.  I dyed half the fiber (in plastic mesh to keep it from felting) with an alum mordant and then another round of fiber mordanted with iron (never tried that before).  Madder just gave it’s heart out for me. I soaked each round in a cool dyebath for 2-days because Wild Color by Jenny Dean says it gives the clearest shades.

I saved the final batch of fiber for a plant I had heard about in my guild.  It’s a weed around here called Queen Anne’s Lace or wild carrot.  When my husband and I were working out at our local fitness center, we spotted a patch of it out the window.  The director gave us some scissors and a bag and we gathered about a pound of the stuff.  She thought we were crazy. I cooked it up the next day and plunged the fiber into a hot bath for a couple of hours.

It turned a crazy wonderful greenish yellow color. I was thrilled.

All this natural dyeing doesn’t take very long and it’s pretty relaxing too.  I sit by the dyepot reading or get along with my other work while it sits happily turning colors.  Here’s the results.

From left to right: iron mordant-madder dye; alum mordant-madder dye; alum mordant-Queen Anne’s Lace.

So now I need to spin it up for a weaving project and I think I’ll use some yarn from the Indigo workshop to go along with it.  Plus, since the job market is still looking pretty bad, I’m sure I’ll have time to use the last of the dyes from the kit- brazilwood, osage, and the roots of an old barberry plant we dug up and dried years ago.  I’ll keep you posted.