Archive for the 'dye' Category

Woad Seeds, dye pots and more or less interesting messes

I’m still collecting Woad seeds. When the one plant that had started going to seed took off I wrapped it in a tomato cage and will continue collecting seeds as long as they appear. Also on the to-do list is to start sending out seed packets to various fellow-dyers.


My idea of an enjoyable weekend: dyed more yarn, Woad and Onion peel pots and made a batch of Plantine and Lavender salve.

Woad and Weld: more going to seed

Most of the time my Woad plants have looked rather cabbage-like. Now that one of  them has switched into seed producing mode it is shooting up like a mutant broccoli.

For the Weld, I’m going to dry most of the plants and let a bit go for seeds.

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Spring, Woad and Weld: going to seed

Jack, through the back screen door. The cats are always looking for the door to spring.

Garden around late January, early February.

Still looks a bit bare.  Shortly after this picture was taken the Weld took off.

I haven’t written much about using Weld. From: A Dyer’s Manual / Jill Goodwin (ISBN 0-7207-1327-7)
“The whole plant above ground may be chopped and simmered fresh, or carefully dried for use during the winter. There is little difference in the depth of yellow color from fresh or dried plants but the range of greens is greater from freshly cut leaves and stems.” (p.63)

[Weld plants, pictures taken only a couple of weeks apart. ]
Goodwin also mentions that the the plants grow about 3ft before flowering.

And the Woad

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Coaxing Blue: part 2 – got woad (powder)

My first batch of Woad sludge finally evaporated down to powder.  As soon as the order of Spectralite arrives I’ll test it out.

And the new Woad coming up.

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Coaxing Blue: My Further Adventures with Woad

I’ve used both Indigo and Woad in powdered form but never processed my own plants. Given my limited garden space it’s unlikely I’ll be able to grow enough for all my dye needs but I still like to grow as much as I’m able and understand the process a bit better.

Woad References:
All About Woad: Extraction Page:
Good pictures of the process.
the Yahoo Woad Growers Group:
Nice folks. They were helpful when I had processing/extracting questions.
Rowan’s Woad Page:
Institut für Färbepflanzen: Färberwaid:
If you read or want to practice reading German, this would be a good site.

First year woad plant. From what I’ve read Woad is a bi-annual plant. You get the dye from the first year leaves and your seeds the second year. And, that you can’t get dye the second year. I haven’t tested this out (yet) so anyone correct me if I’m wrong.

Harvesting leaves.

New Woad plants for next year.

Chopping and then stewing or steeping the Woad.

Mixing in the Ammonia to oxygenate.

Waiting around for the particles….(in my case about 3 days). Reading directions for Woad processing it can sound like you see particles settling in 15 minutes or an hour or two. In my case it was more like 3 days to a week. I posted to the Yahoo Woad group to see if I was doing anything incorrectly and got back very helpful replies. In some cases the particle settling phase takes a bit longer.

Finally..shadow on the bottom of the jar is Woad particles I’m waiting for. (Few days more)

Pigment settling and drying.

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Rain, Sun and back to Rain Again

Did I mention that the weather here is volatile and often just plain weird? Rain coming down in buckets. Windy. Tomorrow noon it may be sunny and near 70°, unlikely as that seems right now.

 Good weather to say in and weave. I’m currently working on a small piece woven with the “deconstructed” or recycled Abercrombie & Fitch sweater wool from my local Out-of-the-Closet thrift shop. Project began as a local guild challenge (earlier dye posts) and I’m still weaving through the accumulated stash.
The wool is a natural off-white. It’s been dyed with onion skins, Hibiscus flower (dried), Woad (powdered), Fennel, miscellaneous yard trash and copper or iron mordants.  I don’t really have a good, reliable local blue so generally I use Woad powder or Indigo. I was trying as much as possible to use what’s locally available and go easy on the chemical mordants.

The cats deal with the weather by alternately hibernating and demanding the door to Spring. Not a bad plan.

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my idea of a good day

My idea of a really good day is getting things done. Winter solstice has passed and we are finally getting more daytime light. This weekend  I managed my usual weekend laundry, garden weeding and did a small woad vat.

[left to right: yellow #2 exhaust bath, cactus fruit, woad, woad over-dyed with fennel.]

I’ve been working on onion baths, first one for the darker color – tangerine-orange – and exhaust the remaining dye for lighter yellow. [The pinkish-orange was my previously mentioned cactus fruit attempt.

[upper left clockwise: onion with a 15 min copper after-bath, onion #1 bath, cactus fruit, onion #2 exhaust bath.]

I’ve tried 1:1 (fiber:dye stuff) but have found that 1:.5) works well too even if I have to let it sit longer. First bath simmers for an hour, sits over night and then the 2nd exhaust bath is another hour of simmering and again cooling over night.

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