My mother taught me how to sew when I was a little girl. To this day I still make a lot of my own clothes, quilts, and anything else I have time for. With my love of plants it just seemed natural that I learn to dye my own cloth and yarn.
Dyeing with plants isn't a new thing though, it's an ancient craft and the techniques are well established. Textiles have been livened up with natural plant and animal pigments for centuries. It is amazing to think that some of these are still around today like antique tapestries, brocades, and embroideries- still rich with color.
My goal isn't to teach you how to dye, just to inform those who save twigs, spent flowers, seeds and other plant stuff, that you can do more with them then toss them into the compost heap. Color is one of the most beautiful attributes of a plant and using dyes from them is a great way to "save" their colors when the seasons change, whether it's in cloth or a basket of natural yarns. And if done right, it is possible to create a full spectrum of colors.
Some of my favorite plants include black walnut, marigold, hollyhocks, purple basil, elderberries, coreopsis, goldenrod, ivy, nettle, onion, wallflower, oh and the list just goes on and on. Basically plants that grow around me. I have used lichen as well, but as a botanist with respect for these fragile plants, I have only collected certain species. With plants you can achieve some of the most beautiful natural colors in nature.
Gardeners always find room in their gardens to grow new plants that catch their attention. I hope you make some space for a little dye garden and enjoy the colors all year long.
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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.