Black hollyhock 1

Time to dye! Well, that’s how I felt on more than one level when I woke up on the morning of new year’s eve, massive headache and eating seemed like a waste of time. So I decided I needed a bit of a treat while husband kindly mucked my horse boxes in the rain and wind.

So I whipped out a bag of hollyhock flowers, took a look at the rain water horse trough and decided it looked clean and fresh enough for boiling some plant in.


Normally flowers don’t really give their colours up to wool, but hollyhock is one of the exceptions, in fact I simmered them twice in fresh water because they seemed to give A LOT of dye when I tried them on my cloths and paperprints. And the soup sure looks promising!

I didn’t have any mordanted yarns beside the usual alum+CoT, so I decided to try the pH test for variation and leave other experiments for later. I have two more bags of 100 g each. I left the soup to steep over night since I had “unfortunately” agreed to invite company for dinner. 😉 The pH test can be conducted two ways, in the dye pot or as an afterdip. According to the books, hollyhock generally reacts well to modifiers and mordants, so I’ll need to do iron and tin as well at some point.

For this lot I started with 4 skeins. One had a vinegar bath after, one had an alkaline bath and the last two were left to soak in the bath for 3 days, one mordanted, one not.  Then one dipped in iron rainwater and one in tap water. I rather think I’ll have to set up a full experiment someday with every single combination that I can think of!

I used a 1:1 dry flowers to yarn. And after I’d begun to simmer the flowers I realised that with the Dyer’s chamomile 100g of flowers is actually 400 g of fresh flowers, so using a whole bag for my intended 100 g would probably be a bit over the top. So I thought I’d be doing batches of ~100 g until I got bored or ran out of yarn, but in the end the soup was too smelly and the results too bland, so I just chucked it.

First impressions: Blah. In fact all 4 skeins looked the same beigey purple. Now, was that due to soaking them in tap water before putting them in the dye (I’d forgotten to soak and just went for a quick dip, drops of dye in the tap water turned grey) or have the flowers been simmered at too high temps?

top to bottom: vinegar, iron, hard water

Weather forecast says grey, grey, grey, so better pix will have to wait if necessary.

Dye pH: 6. Vinegar afterdip did, well, a teeny bit towards a heather tint. Iron dip a slightly browner beige and the hard water rinse a slightly greyer beige…

Then lo and behold what happens when you dip in water with a teeny glug of ammonia. I LURVE that green! (well, even better when wet and fresh) In fact if the Hollyhocks don’t prove good for anything else, I’ll surely use this strategy again.


Next up will be an unsimmered test. It’s going to live here, mimicking a solar dye because we don’t get up at night to keep the fire going (this is the only heating source we use in the house). So it will be warm/cold alternately just like outside in summer.

5 minutes into the process, icy cold rain water.

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Sorte stokroser

Første forsøg med stokroser gik ikke så godt (ok, andet forsøg, første gang var jo på noget stof og papir, hvilket gav meget kraftige farver!). Det blev sådan beigegråt med kun meget lille forskel på efterbade med eddike, jern og hårdt vand. Til gengæld blev det med en lille glug salmiak en vældig fin grøn, så det skal jeg arbejde lidt med på et tidspunkt!

Jeg ved ikke om de blev kogt for meget, eller hvad der skete, for jeg brugte rigeligt med plantemateriale, jeg glemte lige i forbifarten at blomsterne jo var tørret og det giver ved jeg ved gÃ¥seurt et forhold pÃ¥ 1:4 i vægt i forhold til friske…

Jeg tester lige en koldfarvning, som jeg sætter et stykke tid på brændeovnen, den er varm om dagen og kold om natten, ligesom en god dansk sommer. Måske blomsterne bedre kan lide den behandling.

17 thoughts on “Black hollyhock 1

  1. I really like all those colours – I agree the green is particularly nice but I like the moody purples too!

    My black hollyhocks should flower this summer, I can’t wait to have a go! Meanwhile, I’m thinking of dyeing with the remains of our Christmas tree this week…

  2. You actually said, “So I whipped out a bag of hollyhock flowers…” That is awesome. The green is gorgeous, and the purples are promising. More experiments! What kind of hollyhock were they?

      1. I have no idea. I’ve heard that hollyhocks can dye, but I’ve never grown or used them, and I wasn’t sure if you had a different variety over there or not. Definitely worth adding them to the garden for that green though. Very pretty. I seem to remember a friend of mine dyeing with hollyhock a few years ago, but I think she got more of a teal colour. I’m going to have to ask her again…

  3. Ja, jeg kan nu li’ alle farverne – det ser slet ikke blah ud i mine øjne, men mere sofistikeret, støvet og lækkert. Vanvittigt gode farver til mønsterstrik!
    Jeg har ikke farvet sÃ¥ meget med stokroser (men har plantet nogle ud i haven her i efterÃ¥ret, sÃ¥ satser pÃ¥ at fÃ¥ prøvet til sommer), men jeg har prøvet en enkelt gang og fÃ¥et stærk blÃ¥violet …men da lagde jeg ogsÃ¥ blomsterne direkte pÃ¥ stoffet 😉

    1. Ja, jeg fik ogsÃ¥ næsten sort ved at lægge hovederne direkte pÃ¥ papir og stof – nok derfor jeg blev sÃ¥ skuffet. For de afdæmpede farver har jo ogsÃ¥ deres berettigelse. Den indledende beige, før skyllebade, var dog jævnt kedelig, især nÃ¥r man ser farven pÃ¥ suppen! Men den vinrøde løb bare af sÃ¥ snart jeg løftede garnet ud. Nu ser vi, hvordan det gÃ¥r med den kolde metode, og sÃ¥ tror jeg ogsÃ¥ jeg skal have resten af min Dorset ham i.

  4. Hi. Your posts make me wish I’d paid more attention in chemistry class! I love the subtle pink of the vinegar and what a green! Jane

    1. Not to worry! I never paid much attention in chemistry, it’s the most boring subject in the whole wide world… As long as you’re not afraid of “let’s see what happens if”, then you can do this.

  5. Wow, that green is amazing! I have only really got beige from black hollyhocks, but they are so pretty I’m sure to try again.

    1. From my current “cold” experiment it looks like you should not get temps too high with these, I have a bright lavender skein drying as we speak.

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