Denise: It’s late July and the sun is out, the breeze is distinctly warm (well for here!) and, more importantly for a spinner, there’s a wealth of plants in full-flower just waiting to be picked for the dye pot! Here’s a recipe especially for Sharon Blackie on Lewis to get her started colouring the recently obtained Blackface fleeces.
Ragwort (Gaelic – Buaghallan)
Part 1, Making up the dye
Plenty of this around now – and until late August. It’s easy to pick. Produces a really impressive full-coloured yellow, for relatively little outlay.
To dye about 1lb of wool collect a couple of carrier bags of the fully-opened flowering heads (just 3-4″ in length). You’ll need a large dye bucket, pref. stainless steel with lid. You can of course try out the method with smaller quantities of plant material and an old saucepan. Pack the flowering heads into the bucket/pan and press down well. Cover with boiling water – my dye pot holds about 4 or 5 kettle-fulls. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. Here’s the difficult bit… leave to cool over night!
Part 2 tomorrow… watch this space