In the meantime…

coreopsis flowers

It’s coreopsis time! I’m harvesting lots of flowers, like hundred every day now. Leaving enough for the solitary bees to collect nectar and pollen. Having so much flowers I’m going to dry some too to dye with them, just to see if there is a difference in color with the fresh flowers. For now, I’ve prepared a dye vat to let the flowers ferment in their juice, placing the vat outside as we’re having warm days.

I’ve only just begun with harvesting dyeplants and I’m starting a few dye vats. So many other things to do. I will post more about it very soon.

In the meantime you can now find me and my plants on Instagram too

See you here and there

Marylene

 

The dyeing season starts again…

…slowly but surely

 

My friend gave me a Gunnera tinctoria dried flowerstalk with a lot of seeds in it. I’m told Gunnera tinctoria roots should dye black but I don’t seem to find a lot about it on the Internet. It’s worth a try but I need some full grown plants first, that will take a while, for sure. I found a few oaks galls in my garden which will come in handy at some point and I’ve started a fermentation vat with Ivy berries and leaves (Hedera helix). I’ve never tried dyeing with them and I’m very curious if it will give me the famous green I’m hoping for. Another smaller vat is filled with fermented juice of some rose hips I’ve collected in the Fall, the color is a very promising dark red but my guess is it will give pink on yarn. And in the smaller vat I’m testing oak moss (Evernia prunastri). It’s looks very promising so far, this lichen is very famous for it’s purplish dye. All fermented dyes of course!

More about this soon…

Ah! Spring is in the air !

Digging for madder…

madder roots

Madder roots 

It’s been a while since I posted something here. That’s because it’s winter and during winter I hibernate. Which means I don’t dye anything or harvest any plants, I just read and knit and read and knit and once in a while I write a bit too.

But basically, I’m waiting for the return of spring…

freshly dugged madder roots

freshly dug madder roots

But yesterday the weather was nice, the sun was shining and it felt like spring! So I decided it was a good day to harvest some madder roots.
It is said that the minimum age for harvesting madder is three years, but the best age should be five years. I have three madder plants, all of them three years old, so I dug one out, leaving some of the roots in the soil for new plants and I harvested about 300 grams of roots. I put them in a bucket full of water to loosen the soil and let it soak overnight.

Because madder root is hard to cut when dry I cut mine fresh in small pieces using a pair of secateurs after I have washed them thoroughly several times.

washed fresh madder roots

Now I will let them dry in a warm place before I use them, later in summer.
The colour of the roots is quite red as you can see. 300 grams of fresh washed roots should be around 45 grams of dried madder. That’s not much and to be honest I expected more, but I guess I will have to be patient and wait another two years to dig out the rest.

chopped fresh madder roots

chopped and ready to dry

Conclusion:  I will have to plant a LOT more plants if I want to dye with my own madder…

The beauty of native plants

“To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

wilde peen

one of the most beautiful flowers to look at and the most photogenic

wild carrot, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace, Queen Anne’s lace

yesterday's wild harvest - life at Urd ar Brunnr

On my walk yesterday I found: Queen Anne’s lace, still blooming, wild plum twigs with lichen, St. John’s wort flowering for a second time, Blackthorn berries. All are great dye materials

Cantharellus

These common roll-rim mushrooms grow in my garden (Paxilus involutus). I want to try and see if it’s a good dye mushroom, probably it will give some yellow.

harvesting alder inner bark - shades of lynx

End of summer is a good time to harvest barks, there are plenty of alder trees here and one or two branches will give me enough material to dye with.

The magic colour of the Alder inner bark:

When you cut an alder branch and remove the inner bark the wood is white first, but very quickly it turns to a bright reddish orange.
To the ancients, the Alder was particularly revered, for it appeared to bleed like humans.

I usually let the bark soak for many months before I use it as a dye (without modifiers: dark yellow on wool and rusty brown on cotton)

alder, aulne, els, erle, aliso
(Alnus glutinosa)

“Of course, it’s always been known (especially amongst the old-ones) that alder trees in the most primeval, remote and wild sites, have fairy or elf doors in their trunks just above the water line, and these are entrances into faere kingdoms, gateways into the Underworld.”
http://www.ecoenchantments.co.uk/myogham_alderpage.html

harvesting Amaranthus hopi red dye

The last of the dye plants in the garden are being harvested too, like these Amaranthus Hopi red dye

preparing fermented dyes

But I still have a lot of fermented plant juices waiting for some yarn to be dyed with, I will show the results of my last dyes of summer soon

I’m a dyer and I love it

growing dye plants

Here some Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) which I won’t harvest this year I just let them grow to get seeds, I hope there will be many.

outdoor dye vats

These strange objects are my dye vats which I cover with black plastic to enhance temperature which is important if you want the dye liquid to ferment

testing all kinds of dye plants

Smaller fermentation vats with all sorts of strange plants, testing, always testing…

preparing the goldenrod dye vat

Starting a Goldenrod dye vat (Solidago virgaurea)

collecting seeds

Another one of my passions is to collect seeds, not only dye plant seeds but also wild plants, medicinal herbs and vegetables seeds