Brown Knapweed – Alm. Knopurt

Centaurea jaceaknopurt2

It so happened right after I mentioned a pH tip from Riihivilla in my Scentless chamomile post, that I spotted some Knapweed at the side of the road. So my designated driver was ordered to pull over so I could take a few pix and plants.

I didn’t get the cool yellow that Leena mentions, but I decided to also try her method of using the same dyebath once a week or so until it’s exhausted (or you are). Some plants, like birch leaves, will stay the same and dye fine for weeks, even if there’s mold in it. Others, like Celandine, will go brown and smelly in days and the dyed items will be brown too.

I actually thought it was exhausted by the 2nd skein, but decided to give it another week. And got a stronger colour. So obviously had to keep going. Unfortunately I think I know I weighed the plants (mostly flowers), but must have forgotten to take notes. But it was rather “a lot.” Now that I see the dates I’ve noted, my weeks obviously aren’t as long as they feel like. I’m going to try and leave it for a bit now.

21st July

24th July

29th July

2nd August


They’re not very exciting, but Leena writes that they are nice under woad for greens. I’m going to try one of them with reeds, which I’m playing with at the moment and looks awesome on Birch.

Knapweed 2 >>

På danskdanish

Jeg nævnte i indlægget om Falsk kamille, at jeg fra Leena i Finland havde fået ideen om at tilsætte potaske når man trækker farven ud af planterne. Hun brugte knopurt, og et par dage efter så jeg rent faktisk en lille dusk i vejkanten og beordrede straks min chauffør ind til siden til foto og indsamling.

Jeg startede ikke med en kold gul som nævnt i linket, men jeg besluttede at gøre på samme måde som beskrevet, at lade badet stå og med mellemrum varme op og farve igen indtil der ikke sker mere. Det er lidt pudsigt at nogen farvebade bare giver det meste til første fed, og de efterfølgende bliver lysere og lysere, men her får man altså næsten samme farve igen og igen, også selvom de nogen gange står i gryden et døgn.

Regner med at overfarve med blå og evt. med tagrør, som jeg leger med lige pt.

Allerede ved fed 2 skete der så ikke ret meget, desværre glemte jeg at skrive vægten på blomsterne ned, men der var mange. Fed 3 var sjovt nok mere gult, så jeg blev jo nødt til at teste i hvert fald ét mere!


Fun with coreopsis


Last time I tried to grow these, I got a few spindly stalks with hardly anything on them. Which means, this year I totally underestimated how far apart I should plant and now I have a waist high jungle of thick, thick plants with hardly a size 5 footprint anywhere for me to reach the middle for picking flowers. I’ve taken to wearing my Fivefingers, to make the footprint smaller than a pair of Crocs (I apologize to those of you who are fashion conscious, but they DO work well for zipping in and out of the house all day).

I know they work really well frozen, so this year I’ll try drying some and see if that works, because it’s easier to store anywhere. Whereas steak and peas don’t survive for very long on a wardrobe shelf…


And I’ll have enough to conduct a series of tests, as I’ve heard a rumour they are pH sensitive. If you just want a regular yellow, you need less than half your yarnweight in flowers, or you can start with plenty and dye one skein at a time from orange over turmeric to sunny yellow until it exhausts. It also doesn’t need a lot of heat once the dye is extracted from the flowers, it’s excellent for solar dyeing and on silk.


So the plan would be:

  1. alkaline for reds
  2. acid for yellows
  3. test skeins in neutral
  4. amounts – work my way from strong dyebath to an exhausted one
  5. if the reds come out – test them with tin, to see if it gets even redder
  6. iron and copper possibly


You can get a lot of different yellows from the exhaust, depending on amount of yarn, plants, temperature, how long you let each skein remain in the bath etc. Here’s the 2011 batch with some cold dyed Japanese Indigo:

Japanese Indigo


Coreopsis tinctoria er rigtig god at lege med fordi man kan få så mange forskellige nuancer. Hvis man starter med et kraftigt farvebad og kommer 1 fed i af gangen, kan man få fra kraftig orange over gurkemeje-gylden til frisk solgul.

I år ville jeg så også lige teste påstande om at den er pH følsom, rød fra basisk farvebad og gul fra surt. Det blev en helt anden slags gul end ellers, og pga en fejl fra min side (manglende base) lavede jeg også lige en variant med kobber.

Der skal meget lidt blomst til, til alm gul behøver man mindre end halvdelen af garnvægten. Også flot på silke og god at solfarve med.

Det fungerer også rigtig godt at fryse blomsterne, men i år vil jeg også forsøge at tørre, da det er lidt nemmere at opbevare. Bøf og ærter holder knap så godt i et garderobeskab. 😉


Dandelion 2013 mælkebøtte

dandelion / mælkebøtte
dandelion / mælkebøtte 2011

I’d already tried this 2 years ago and didn’t really think to repeat, but then again, one can always use yellow as a base for green or brown. I also wanted to break in the cast iron pot that I found in an “antique” shop.

So I did one hank in the iron pot, the others in a steel pot. And was quite disappointed. Even though I’d also cooked the flowers in the iron pot, it was no different from the others, I had to give it a bath with green vitriol to make it change.

So far I’ve only used flower heads because the leaves are hugging the ground mostly and are hard to pick, but I did want to do at least one skein before I abandon this plant. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because it’s not very remarkable compared to most wild plants that give yellow. If I need some, I can use it, but I’m not going to plan for it again.

It’s said that the leaves turn it more towards green than just the flowers. It didn’t BUT, the mordanted skein was ever so stronger yellow than the one with just flowers, so I definitely recommend going to the trouble of picking leaves as well. The two unmordanted hanks are almost identical, so I’ll probably be turning one into green with indigo or woad, unless I suddenly need a lot of pale yellow.

left to right: leaves no mordant, flowers no mordant, flowers + alum, flowers + alum + iron, leaves + alum


Now I just need to test it for lightfastness. Most of my yarns in fact. One of those tasks that I find less stimulating and leave off, like tax papers and such. 😉

Coming up next: Daffodils and Stinging nettle.


Da jeg lige ville teste min nye støbejernsgryde, har jeg været en tur omkring mælkebøttefarvning igen – fordi det er de planter som er fremme nu. Jeg brugte et enkelt ubejset fed og ellers alun. Kun blomsterhoveder, da bladene mest ligger fladt på jorden her, nede i græsset.

Desværre fik jeg ikke rigtig noget anderledes resultat fra jerngryden, man får ellers tudet ørerne fulde af, at det dæmper farven på samme måde som decideret jernbejse. Så jeg måtte have det tredje fed en tur i en balje med jernvitriol for at få den olivengrønne farve jeg gik efter.

Og så ville jeg alligevel teste et enkelt fed med kun blade, for at se om det er rigtigt at de bliver lidt mere grønlige. Mælkebøtter er ikke bemærkelsesværdige i forhold til andre planter i naturen som giver gul, de kan bruges hvis de lige er der og man mangler gult, men jeg har ikke tænkt mig at bruge den år efter år bare for at gøre det.

Jeg blev temmelig overrasket over den kraftige gule farve jeg fik fra bladene, ikke grøn, men helt klart mere farve end fra blomsterne. Så det kan anbefales.

Lystestes skal det nok også, jeg skal bare lige tage mig sammen til at lave papskiver og lister og halløj for at holde styr på det.

Næste punkt på programmet er påskeliljer og brændenælde.


hhock10Remember this jar on the right?

It was eventually done cooking on the stove. 2 days like the other 3 skeins, ph 2, as high as I managed to get it. Pure vinegar with some acetic acid. I measured again when done and it was closer to 1.

I was very excited to see if it would keep its rose tint during the dye process and of course after. Well, here you go:

Dry skein reeking of vinegar
Skein rinsed then dried again.

Unfortunately it seems that rinsing out the vinegar will push it towards purple once it dries. Even if there is actually a bit of vinegar in the 2nd rinse water. OR it could be heat. See, I wanted to wrap up this post and put the yarn close to the stove. The most wet ends turned more purplish than the rest before I noticed and moved it. Sic! So, heat definitely pushes it towards purple. As well as time.

I meant to do another skein in there upping the ph slightly – but I lost steam, didn’t get to mordant more yarn, and, well.

I’m going to re-photograph all the skeins later, as they do seem to change a bit after curing. I also don’t always rinse them until they’ve dried and rested for a bit.

And here they are:

* * *

Dre asked me about pH change during the process. I did not measure at each temperature shift, but the juice in the above photos, which started out at 8 and 2, are now 6 and 1 (or that’s as low as my strip goes). The two jars in the window however have not changed since I made them, they’ve been in temps between 15-20 C.

Just for fun I think I’ll stuff some fleece in the highly acidic jar, then afterwards dip it in the former alkaline jar. Which is now no longer alkaline, where did that ammonia go?!

Fun fact which unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to document: when I hung the pink skein to drip in the shower (white floor), the splash pattern was pink in the middle with a larger ring of drops around it, they were indigo blue! As well as the run off between the tiles, dark, dark blue.

Anyone care to take a guess at what happened there and is it related to the pink/purple issue of the finished skein?

Hollyhock 2

My experiments with Hollyhock flowers continue. This time a “solar” dye technique, using variations of indoor temperatures to mimick summer.

Rainwater, vinegar, pH 4. 35 g yarn, 10 g dry flowers. Left on top of fireplace 2 days. I shook it up once in a while when taking photos of the progress. Shelf temp. 60-65 C when fired up, 40-45 C on the top of stove (where I let it remain), 15 C in the morning.

hhock05 hhock06 hhock07
30 minutes – 3 hours – 24 hours

2 days
compared to first batch which have faded a bit while in the cupboard…

Same procedure, pH 6-7 (my strips are not super accurate) yielded pretty much the same shade, so I took the remains of the dyebath, put in ammonia until it was way up (11+, it takes only drops….), then dunked it for a minute. Thought I might as well compare it to the “boiled green”. There are some strands that had not as much dip as the rest, they turned blue. I left them as such, for science. 😉



Next, both exhausts mixed and upped to pH 8, 2 days on stove. As you change the pH the dyebath pretty much changes to the colour you’ll get on the yarn, how’s that for an indicator? I had fun adding ammonia to get green, then vinegar water to make it rosy again with the last bit of dyebath before I poured it out.

This skein is incredibly hard to photograph to the exact shade – as close as I got today in the snow.
flash photo
flash photo – always a bit brighter that life…

As you can see however, once I took it out I didn’t quite get the steel blue (left jar below) or the baby blue of the strands on the previous skein, may have left it in there too long and it got too alkaline. A safer bet if you want sky blue may be to do a neutral 6-7 pH lavender then a dip in pH 8. Maybe it takes even less to turn it.

I think I’m going to have to try and get some dark red flowers and see if they give a more rosy warm shade. I thought the acid one would be, given the heather rosy tint I got on the first project with a vinegar afterdip – maybe afterdips are different, maybe if was the temperature? As you can see the dyebath starts out very pink, then to turn purple over time. Could be a completely cold dye procedure would be different yet again. Or maybe I need to push the acid lower than 4 if we have green on the opposite end, then blue, purple in the middle and ?

Join us next week in the quest for pink, 2 more jars in this series still cooking… I’m thinking that perhaps the lavender skein was closer to neutral pH, since it was identical to the neutral one, so I’ll have to conduct another test with the exhaust from the red jar below. Meaning, I need to mordant more yarn to get reliable comparisons, meaning y’all need to wait for a bit.


In the meantime, I’ve also mordanted the rest of my Dorset fleeces in tin/alum/CoT, about 650 g. So look out for “Hollyhock 3”. Or possibly 4.

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Stokroser 2

Nye eksperimenter, denne gang farvet ved stuetemperatur, dvs. jeg forsøgte at kopiere solfarvning ved at stille glassene på brændeovnen, det giver 40-45 grader om dagen og ca. 15 om natten. 2 døgn hver ved pH 3, 6 og 8. Den mellemste lignede grangiveligt den første, så den fik et meget basisk dyp til sidst og blev en flot grøn. Spørgsmålet er, om jeg har fejlmålt pH værdien på det første fed, og det måske var nærmere neutral, dette er jeg i gang med at teste….

Jeg har brugt regnvand, men nu hvor vi har fået frost er jeg nok nødt til at bruge vandhanen, selvom det evt. godt kan give et mere gråligt resultat at dømme fra første test.

Næste test er dels tinbejset, dels helt “koldt” bad uden ovn og, når jeg får dyrket nogen, mørkerøde blomster i stedet for sort-violette. Noget tyder dog på at det er pH værdien som er afgørende, så jeg er i gang med næste test i ren eddike.