When I started out natural dyeing, I depended on dyestuffs that I’d foraged from my local surroundings, or else ordered online. But in the last two years I’ve become increasingly able to grow plants that will yield colour in my own garden. And this last month I’ve achieved a satisfying array of colours from plant dyes all grown within the bounds of our wee plot. The base yarn is a Shetland heavy laceweight.
Woad! Although I used the leaves from 8 or 9 plants, the colours are not as strong as my first ever woad-growing escapades. This might be because the soil in the our garden isn’t alkaline enough (unlike the planters of the previous batch), so I will make sure to add lime next year.
The blurry skeins in the foreground were dyed with seeds from last year’s plants: there were absolutely masses of seeds, and while the colours were not the most exciting, they will at least be useful when combined with more vibrant shades.
Fairly tedious-but-useful colours were also obtained from carrot tops – though the lack of excitement is made up for by the fact that the dyestuff is a by-product from lovely yummy carrots for dinner.
We planted our buddleja (Black Knight variety) in the winter, and since it flowered I’ve been deadheading blooms as soon as they’re no longer of interest to the bees and butterflies, as the faded flowers give bright yellows even without the use of a mordant.
All this dyeing has been a solace during what’s been a frankly rubbish few weeks. We lost our first hen, Mags, after a month of illness. I took it hard because she was my favourite and I put a lot of effort into trying to get her better. And animal grief is hard to take when human bereavement is still so raw.
And I always find August difficult since moving to the west of Scotland–it’s inevitably wet, murky and humid, and doesn’t feel like summer any more. Yet there’s not the exhilarating seasonal change, fresh starts and return to normal routines of September. However I’m starting to feel better now, and to appreciate berries on the hedgerows, and the lush greenness now we’ve had plenty of rain. Plus we had a good couple of days up at my in-laws’ smallholding in Aberdeenshire – open skies, yellow fields, and sheep!