Playing with Colors

My dear friend Sister Jane and I like to have what we call “fiber play dates.”  We get together out at Heartland Farm, grab some fiber, then hit the woods to see what dyes we can turn up.

This particular day, we were lucky enough that the ground was nice and soft, so we decided to finally try out Curly Dock.  Most species in the Rumex genus are said to give some sort of color – usually yellows, although I’ve found some sources that claim the Plains Native Americans were able to get reds from this plant as well.

We grabbed some tools and headed to the alpaca pasture.  Unfortunately, alpaca don’t really care to eat dock, so it’s been spreading a bit uncontrollably.  We dug roots for almost half an hour and barely made a dent!

After washing the roots and pounding them with a mallet (we got out a lot of pent up political aggression!) we set the roots to boil while we prepared our fiber.  We did a standard alum mordant, and after we saw good color in the dyebath, popped in the fiber.  Next time, I’d like to soak the roots overnight to see if we could get a richer color out of them.  I do love the creamy golden brown that showed up even with this quick dyebath!

curly dockIMG_0488