Using Wild Goldenrod as a fiber Dye

I truly love using wild, natural plants for dye. Experimenting with common pasture plants can be so rewarding, especially if it’s a brand new adventure with plant material you have never used to dye with before. Yes, it is easier to purchase commercial dyes but where is the fun in that?

Yesterday morning I saw bright patches of yellow in one of our lower pastures and knew another yarn dyeing adventure was waiting for me to tap into it. I grabbed the keys to the Kubota and immediately headed out with a pair of gloves, a large plastic bag and my favorite pair of pruning shears. As I drove toward the brightly shining colors, it became clear that several large patches of Wild Goldenrod had bloomed over the hot, humid weekend while I was out of town.

I parked the Kubota and began to carefully cut off only the largest bouquets of yellow flowers, leaving more to bloom over the next few days and leaving a bounty of the bright, nutritious flowers for the bees and butterflies. Once enough had been harvested, I came back to the fiber studio on a mission.

Dyeing with wild Goldenrod

With so many natural plants and flowers it is not necessary to trim the green leaves that grow on the stem but my desire was a bright yellow color for my yarn so I trimmed away as many green leaves and stems this time. I placed only the brightly colored blooms into the dye pot with water and turned on the heat. In the meantime, I soaked a large skein of alpaca yarn with alum as the mordant.

As the temperature in the dye pot climbed, I began to see the beautiful, soft shades of yellow and gold that Wild Goldenrod is famous for. Normally, the dye bath is ready to use within a couple of hours but this was going to be a new adventure. I wanted a really rich, vibrant yellow color so it seemed logical to cook the raw plant material longer to see if the deeper, brighter yellow color could be achieved. I ended up turning off the heat source after four hours but left the raw plants in the dye water overnight to cool down. To my absolute delight, the dye bath was indeed a dark, rich gold color when I opened the dye pot this morning.

I placed the alpaca yarn into the dye bath and left the heat at 185 degrees for two hours before removing the heat source. I always leave the yarn in the dye bath to cool off so it is a longer process but so well worth the long wait. I am very pleased with the final results. Dyeing with wild Goldenrod produced the rich “seriously yellow” color I was hoping for!

I know the raw plants and fresh blooms that I left in the pasture will only last another day or two. First thing tomorrow morning I will harvest more, cook more and attempt to refrigerate it in sealed containers so that I can create more beautifully dyed yarns with shades of this awesome yellow color. This is just too much fun!