I'm deep in the middle of a natural dyeing craze. It's an obsession that has swept in and taken me over. Combining foraging in nature with dyeing wool in a rainbow of colours brings me so much joy. My latest dyeing adventure saw me gathering wattle blossoms which are so abundant right now. It's lovely to be using a native plant that's in season. It makes me happy in soooo many different ways and deepens my connection to the seasons and nature.
I wonder if it's the plants whispering to me as they bloom into life with spring. "Look at me! I'm so colourful and smell amazing." There's an incredible idea I heard from Speedy at my very first Village Continuum. Speedy is a real renaissance man and can turn his hand to just about anything from blacksmithing to cheese making and mushroom growing. He told me about Ferdinand von Mueller, Government Botanist and an early director of the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens who in 1858 introduced blackberries to Australia. Speedy suggested it was the blackberry plant itself that spoke to von Mueller and told him to bring it to the new country. This idea that plants can speak to us was a new one to me although I've since learnt many indigenous cultures share this philosophy. The idea quite literally blew my mind. Plants can communicate with us? Incredible!
Acacia Blossom Dyeing
2 cups acacia blossoms
1 litre water
Large stainless steel saucepan
Large metal bowl
Add the flowers and water to the saucepan.
Bring them to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Take off the heat and let the mixture cool down to warmish.
Strain the liquid into the bowl using the lid to stop the flowers going in.
Wet the wool and wring out the excess.
Add the wet wool to the dye bowl and soak overnight. The longer you soak, the stronger your colour. I let mine soak for 3 days, turning it every now and then.
5 iron capsules
4 tsp water
Rinse the wool in warmish water until the water runs clear.
In a small bowl mix the iron capsules and water to form a liquid. I went a blue/black colour straight away.
Drizzle the liquid over the wool.
Let sit for a couple of hours and then rinse off the iron and hang your wool to dry.
COMMENTS: I wasn't a huge fan of the effects of the iron additive. I'm sitting with it as it took a while for the oxalis/bicarb combo to grow on me. The spots where I drizzled it turned a blue/black and when I rinsed the lovely mellow acacia yellow, it turned a greyish colour. It's possible I added too many iron capsules - I think that one capsule and a couple of tablespoons of water would have been plenty. Next time I'd just use acacia or possibly experiment with a bicarb additive if I'm feeling brave!
NOTE: never use your kitchen pots or utensils when you're doing natural dyeing, always use a separate set. Op shops are great places for old pots, bowls, spoons etc.