Sunday, June 13, 2010
Natural dye experiment: Dodder
My husband and I went on a road trip this past weekend, just the two of us. Every now and again, it is good to get away for some focused two-time, away from all the things that pull us in so many directions. Anyway, we were heading back home today, and ended up at a gas station in Globe, AZ to buy some ice. While we were there, a plant caught my eye. It looked sort of like a plant that folks had described at the dye retreat that I went to just awhile ago. So I grabbed a bag, and my husband and I harvested some.
The plant is dodder, or golden thread, and is a parasite listed as a restricted noxious weed in Arizona (which means I had no qualms about removing some from the roadside.) There are actually 17 different varieties of dodder in Arizona, so I'm not sure which one this is. (http://www.delange.org/Dodder/Dodder.htm) Dodder seedlings find a host plant, then twine up and attach themselves, losing their roots and taking all their nutrients from their host plant.
We headed home, and I weighed our harvest at about 12 1/2 oz of fresh plant.
I pulled out the pot that I use just for dyeing, and covered the whole mess with water and started it to simmering.
Then, I pulled out my spinning wheel, and some finn/mohair blend roving that I had on hand. I spun up a bobbin full of yarn.
I didn't feel like spending the time to spin a second bobbin full of yarn, so I Navajo plied the singles, chaining them into a 3-ply yarn. This was my first time doing this, so it was a little lumpy bumpy in places. But by the end of the skein I was getting the hang of it.
After about an hour, I had a skein of yarn ready to go. So I pulled some of the liquid out of the dye pot, and added 3 tsp of alum to it. (No, I don't know how much I should have added. I was winging it.) I stirred it around, and added the liquid back to the pot.
Then I put the yarn in, and simmered it for about 15 minutes while I cleaned up my mess. At this point, the family was going out for the evening. I just turned the heat off under the pot, and let the yarn sit until we got back about 4 hours later.
And this is the result! A bright yellow, with a green undertone. There is still quite a bit of color in the pot, so I've set the whole thing on the back patio (with lid on) until I can get back to it. But I'm really kind of tickled by the day's experiment. It is amazing the treasures that are hidden on the roadside!