Monday, August 10, 2015

Natural dyeing: goldenrod and pokeberries {and Etsy shop news!}.

Last week was one of those weeks where you don't get anything done that you'd planned on doing, but you do a lot of things you didn't plan. I intended to make soap, start knitting some new items to sell, and open my Etsy shop, among other things. But it turned out to be an unexpected week of natural dyeing. Every single day I was either dyeing or doing something related to it.

I'm so thankful that my parents not only put up with all of my strange interests and weird ideas, but they actually encourage and participate in them. They helped me so much last week. My mom and I gathered over twenty pounds of black walnuts from the nearby farm where my dad keeps his sheep. (Those are currently fermenting in water, which they have to do for two more weeks before I dye with them.) Dad picked a couple of buckets of pokeberries, and then the two of us pulled them off the stems (ending up with stained fingers and twelve pounds of berries). They both went with me around the farm until we found a hidden patch of goldenrod, which is apparently blooming early this year. We got the Workhorse temporarily stuck in a hole, while the sky was getting dark and it was starting to thunder, and then we fought briars to get to the goldenrod. And after all of that adventuring, my parents still manage to muster up enthusiasm when I show them how the yarn turned out. Thanks, Mom and Dad. :)

I've dyed with goldenrod before, so I knew what to expect. I think this yarn turned out a bit darker, though. It's a really pretty greenish-yellow. The dye bath still had a lot of color to it and I hated to waste it, so a few days later I dyed some scrap yarn with it. They turned out an equally nice color, though with less of a green tint.

For several years now, I've been wanting to dye with pokeberries. We always have them spring up, but usually I can't find enough berries at one time to use. But I finally got to try it this year, and I'm so happy with the results! We ended up with more berries than I expected, so I had to scrounge around to find more yarn to add to the pot (most of my white yarn is mordanted with alum already, but you use a vinegar mordant with pokeberries...apparently it's the only thing that will keep it from fading). I also threw a few ounces of BFL fiber in there. I've always been afraid to dye spinning fiber, because it's a lot easier to felt than yarn. I might have felted it a bit, but I think I'm still going to be able to spin it. Isn't that color gorgeous? It's definitely my favorite natural dye I've tried so far. The yarn is slightly less pink and more red in real life, but that's the exact shade of hot pink that the water was in the dye pot. It's so bright that it looks artificial! Most natural dyes are muted shades, so it amazes me that such a vibrant color can come from a plant.

{Even though pokeberries are really pretty (look at that perfect little flower shape that's left on the stem when you pull the berries off!) and smell good, they are not edible- they're toxic to humans. I'm sure most people know that, but I thought I should mention it anyway.}

So overall, a very successful week. We have a lot of goldenrod growing in the field behind our house (it's just not blooming yet), so I'm sure I'll be dyeing with it again soon. Also, we have a patch of pokeberry in the garden that hasn't turned yet, and hopefully I'll be able to find enough to make another dye bath before summer's over.

Okay, and finally some Etsy shop news! I'm planning on having the shop open by the weekend. I have a few more listings to finish, so I'm not exactly sure what day it will be, but I'll put up an announcement here when it's officially open.

Here's what will be available: handspun yarn, a few hand-knitted items, and goat's milk soap in several scents. I also have a few skeins of naturally dyed yarn that will be listed soon, but most of them have to be rinsed or reskeined, so they might not be available yet.

I'm really excited for my shop to finally be open. It would be amazing if all of this yarn and fiber stuff could go from being "just" a hobby to being more of a job. I'm trying to move in that direction, with my new shop and the fact that I'm going to be attending a few local craft fairs this fall. We'll see how everything goes!


  1. Beautiful pictures, and a lot of work for you. It sure was fun going on the adventure!!!!! It was well worth it, even getting stuck! Good job!! Mom

    1. A lot of work for all of us! Thanks for your help. :)

  2. These colors are amazing! Bravo. :)

  3. incredible deep strong colors! I love the result! I´ve never seen such a strong colors from the nature!
    thank you for inspiration, I just see some goldenrod from my window. last night I tried to dye with horseradish leaves, today want to try red cabbage, there are quite not many of plants, but goldenrod will be the next.
    this year I try natural dyeing more then ever before...then I spin the wool. when Iwill finish collecting plants and dyeing and spinning naturally dyed wool, then I will post some photos on my blog too.
    keep enjoying beauties of nature, greetings from Czech Republic!

    1. I know, I was surprised by how vibrant the pokeberry was! I hope you enjoy dyeing with goldenrod, and I look forward to seeing pictures of your spinning and dyeing on your blog! :)

    2. I dye with goldenrod just now :) it is looking nice, not so vibrant but very nice.
      good luck in your woolen adventures!


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