I am still spinning like a Norn in an effort to keep up with my 120 gram dye lots for Waysides: Finding Local Colour in Our Home Grounds, a collaborative natural dyeing project with Annie Cholewa. Sometimes the treadling pace wanes, but I recently found gold.
Curly Dock Rumex crispis is an environmental weed in Australia. It is aggressive and prolific, crowding out pasture crops in grazing land and reducing biodiversity in parks and bush areas. It has broad green leaves and flower spikes that yield over 60,000 seeds per plant. The seeds turn a dark scarlet in early autumn. The roots are tuberous.
On our way back from a bike ride, I saw the flower spikes and thought they might yield some colour. My youngling and I returned with some bags down to the creek banks and spent a hot morning foraging and looking for ladybirds. A quick spot of interweb research had me digging up the roots too.
The dock roots reputedly yield yellow and after much chopping, I had a saucepanfull set to simmering. This pot doesn’t have a lid and clearly I did not check on it in a timely fashion and I burnt them. They shall not yield yellow now!
The flowers were were simmered for an hour in rainwater and left overnight to steep, then strained. I then simmered alum mordanted English Leceister skeins for an hour and left them to steep for a couple of hours.
And here in full glory is the sum of my efforts so far…truly a symphony of beige! Did I think I was going to find purples? There is a reason only the emperors wore it. Did I think I was going to find blue? Not a whole lot of wayside indigo or wode here!
I have found gold and silver but there is only so much beige subtlety a modern urban woman can tolerate for her hard won skeins. So, I am off to explore the eucalypts. Eucalyptus nichollii thrilled me once. I really need more thrill.