Here in the UK we have been blessed with days and days of warm sunshine, the spring is at its absolute best. Our garden is a part of an old estate, and there are hundreds and hundreds of naturalised daffodils around here, it is very beautiful as you can imagine.
To celebrate the season, today’s theme is the colour yellow. If you are into dyeing fiber with plants, it really helps if you like the colour, since it is by far the most common dye colour you can get from plants. Although the colour of the flower is not necessarily an indicator of what kind of dye colour you are going to get from it, in the case of daffodils you do get nice yellow dye. I have not yet tried it, but it is on my list since we have so many of them. I am waiting for the moment when the flowers are past their best before I start picking them.
So instead of daffodils, I started my yellow experiments with heather flowers (which I bought as a commercially prepared powder). I used 200g and dyed quite a bit of wool before the dye was exhausted. The results were lovely soft yellows, with a slight khaki tint to them. Very nice wearable shades I thought.
The next yellow colour I experimented with was weld, a historical dye plant already used in medieval times. This gave classic bright yellows. I tried several ways to modify the shade. Using acid (vinegar) gave even brighter yellows and adding iron gave olive greens. I did not happen to have any of the common alkalis used in dyeing (such as household ammonia, wood ash water or washing soda) so I used bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) instead – it softened the colour to a more buttery shade. I have heard the classic alkali effect would have been to brighten the yellow, so that’s definitely not what I got with baking soda. In the past stale urine was used as an alkaline dye modifier, which of course is a resource that is freely and readily available, but perhaps not for the faint-hearted or the squeamish.