just the flowers We have a lot of goldenrod on Manitoulin. At least four varieties, including the large late blooming Canadian goldenrod. It's everywhere. I harvested twice last week. In the first session, I made two concoctions. The batch on the right is flowers and the upper leaves (no stems). On the left, just leaves and stems (no flowers). These were simmered for an hour and then left to steep overnight. For the second harvest, I painstakingly cut the flowers from the stems and tried to include no leaves. These I also simmered for an hour and left to steep overnight. Then I strained them and reheated the coloured water to just a simmer. Alum mordanted wool cloth and embroidered linen were dyed with the flowers only bath. I love using the wool, it accepts the colour so well. The next day I tried something I read on Leena's Riihivilla blog. She suggested adding lye or soda ash to yellow flowering dye baths to make the colour more intense. You can see the difference in the above photos. The top fabric in each set was processed with a weak lye solution added to the dye bath. When I used lye however, I did not heat the liquid. Just steeped the cloth in the natural dye for one day. I plan to overdye some of the yellow fabrics I've coloured with indigo eventually. Silk rayon velvet is the best recipient of any kind of dye. (no mordant necessary, top has lye, bottom not)
p.s. This is quite a la-de-da post about natural dyeing. It does not reflect the hours of time invested in harvesting, processing, mordanting. It does not speak about the time spent with research or record keeping of my own. I like that there is time invested. Time is my main material. Also: It does not mention the extreme caution required when using a caustic substance such as lye - (used to clean automobile garage floors). I always used rubber gloves, I worked outside as the fumes should not be inhaled, I did NOT use heat, and I won't put the liquid down my septic system when I'm finally finished. One good thing about these kinds of dyes is that they do last for quite a while, and multiple dips can be done. I made quite a bit of yardage. Protein fibres work well with natural dyes so I used mostly silk and wool. I had some success with linen. I've researched that a pre-soak in tannic acid will help cotton and linen accept more colour, but have not tried that yet. There is so much to learn.