Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summer Dyeing

Tansy ragwort - Spokane, WA 2017
Summer is the time to harvest many roadside weeds for dyeing. Tansy ragwort (shown above) is in full bloom.  This photo was taken near my motel in Spokane, WA while I was traveling a couple of weeks ago, but you can find it almost everywhere!

Driving along I-5 north of Olympia a couple of days ago, I noticed lots of Queen Anne's Lace growing in the dry ditches.  It looks very much like Cow Parsnip, both having white, umbrella shaped blossoms.  The QAL is much smaller in size and more delicate than the Cow Parsnip, and its leaves are more feathery like carrot tops.

Both the Tansy and the QAL will yield lovely shades of yellow.

Also, along the roadsides near my home, the Foxglove is prolific this time of year. The purple blossoms can easily be stripped from the stems by hand and stuffed into a plastic bag.  I usually gather about two shopping bags full of blossoms for one dye bath for one 4-oz skein of wool yarn.
Pre-mordant your yarn with alum, then simmer the yarn simultaneously with the blossom for several hours. Leave in the pot all night to cool.  Yields a beautiful yellow-lime green.  

Check out the post links on the right for more information on dyeing with each of these plants.


  1. Your blog is always a delight to read. Some much great information, always appreciated.

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  3. Goldenrod is also in bloom now, too. Use the blossoms and tender stems for dyeing, Dry and strip the leaves from the main stalk and use for a lovely, delicate tea, sweetened with honey. Store the leaves in an airtight glass jar and they will keep all year.

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