Golden Brown — 18 Comments

  1. This is a lovely colour that you achieved, I have tried a similar thing with the seed pods off my grandmothers flax and have achieved a pinky brown which wsa not what I was expecting from seeing your results.
    Do you know what ph you water is? I am going to experiment with changing the ph of the dye bath and see if this changes the colour that I achieve.

  2. What a fun and profitable experiment! The color is wonderful and the story about the discovery of it, and the uniqueness of it, will please all who see it!

  3. Yes, a lovely warm color, Because of all the hard work involved that color must be, if not unique, then rare.

    • J > Ah, but there’s the rub of the matter. No matter how methodically used, plant dyes are subject to the variability of natural materials – wool, mordant, dyestuff and many other factors (and behind some of those three, the soil and weather and genetics!) make for variability in colour – and therefore every skein is unique. That’s the joy of natural dyeing!

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  5. Having lived in NZ for so many years NZ flax has become one of my pet hates but who knew you could use them as a dyes, and a fantastic coloured dye at that. Every day I learn something in the blogosphere. Thanks.

  6. The color is beautiful! I never knew about NZ flax, but I always loved growing the European flax when we lived in NJ. It is an super huge job to get those fibers out and ready for spinning. I have never heard of using rhubarb as a mordant. I just recently read about using soy milk to mordant cotton fibers before natural dyeing. I would love to try the rhubarb! (Do you use the stalks or the leaves?)

    • D > Soy milk as mordant makes for expensive yarn! Rhubarb leaves (for that is what is used) would otherwise go on the compost. Boil up for an hour so, and then strain the liquor off, and then leave to dry completely (if storing for later use), or to uniformly just-damp if using immediately. The rhubarb does colour white yarn to a pale drab sand colour, so most useful for fuller-toned colours.

      • Yes, I agree that soy milk would make an expensive mordant. Thanks for the instructions on the rhubarb. If my gmama oats don’t nibble the rest of the leaves off, I will make some up. I usually only have silver and grey year to dye, so I will see how that goes!

  7. Very interesting for me as a New Zealander to see the dye being made from the the berries. There are groups of Maori today working hard on keeping alive the old traditions of stripping the fibres from the leaves and making fine fabric from these threads, all done by hand – which takes hours and hours. They start by soaking the leaves in water for days, in the local creeks and swamps. Then they spin the thread by hand, then weave by hand. A tribe or village needed to be prosperous and well organised to be able to spare enough people to do all this work. It still takes a lot of organisation and people today.

    • D > That’s a very interesting comment. Although very very different plants, the fibres from both NZF and European Flax are processed in very similar ways – and are similarly very labour-intensive, have become very much a cornerstone of culture – most obviously in New Zealand. J and I would love to visit NZ – but not for bungee-jumping or any of the other usual tourist activities, but on a fibre and fabric tour!

      • Google New Zealand flax weaving for visitors. I found tourist flax weaving centres mentioned for Rotorua, Nelson, Taupo and Taranaki, just for starters. The Rangimarie Hetet centre was founded by Rangimarie who was a noted weaver who passed away a few years ago, in her nineties. She had been taught by the old women in her tribe who knew the old traditional knowledge of flax. You may also be interested in the New Zealand “flax library” being maintained by the Department of Conservation, to keep as many species of New Zealand going as possible.

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