Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunflower Power

Man, I love it when things work out the way I had planned!

Last week my mom walked along the side of the highway in Wyoming and picked about 10 pounds of wild sunflowers. I’m not even exaggerating. I used about half of that this weekend and the rest is now in freezer bags in my freezer for future use.

She said “Did you know that some species of bumblebees have blue butts?”

No I did not. How bizarre! And “I had to stop when they all got aggressive. I think they saw me as an intruder.”

We didn’t get home until late Friday evening, but that didn’t stop me from staying up until midnight seeing if I could make dye from sunflowers.

Oh yes, I totally did.

Flowers, awaiting their fate:

To avoid making the house smell funky (natural dye, especially from plants can really stink), I asked my dad to fire up the burner on the grill. I covered the flowers with water, didn’t let the kettle boil and waited.

After about an hour I took a peek. Ewwww! But, it worked. The flowers released a dark brownish green dye.

I ended up with about a gallon of liquid from the dyebath.

Before I had started this process I had filled another kettle with wool and alum. Alum is the only mordant I will use because it is the least toxic. I have used and also use vinegar and cream of tartar.

The next afternoon I heated up the dyebath and when it was ready I dropped in my wool that had been soaking in the mordant. The first bundle instantly turned a gorgeous sagey green. The second bundle turned a yellow gold and the third turned a paler shade of yellow as the dyebath was almost spent.


I started spinning some of it last night; I am extremely pleased with how it is all turning out!

Early returns on some of the yarn:

Saturday afternoon I also dyed these rovings:


At 10:07 AM, Blogger Marvie said...

Oh that sunflower roving/yarn is gorgeous!

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Just beautiful, Joy, as usual. I know a lady here in town (well, sort of know her - casual internet gardening acquaintance) who was trying to grow indigo in her garden one year to see if she could get the blue dye out of it. I don't remember if it worked or not, but I remember thinking it was a cool project at the time.

All that to say, do you have a garden, where you could grow some flowers and plants next year to make dye from? :-)

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Heatherly said...

ooh lovely!


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