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Fall Marigolds


Marigolds give a wonderful yellow to the dye pot and to the yarn/fiber that goes into the dye pot.  It helps that I love what the flowers and plants look like and I love how they smell.  And they grow really well here.

We had some interesting (or not so interesting) issues this past summer which meant that I didn’t get many marigolds to dye with.  I had problems with the sprinkler system for the garden bins and there was a web worm infestation that got away from me.  Suffice it to say; when the temperature began to drop, we had many more happy looking marigolds.

I have several bags of dried marigolds that could be for sale but I need to test them out and see if they will give happy yellow color.  Here is why I’m concerned.

Several years ago we planted one of the garden bins with purple basil.  We went out in the middle of the summer, in the heat and humidity and picked a huge pot full of purple basil.  When you stew it with water you get a deep burgundy dye bath.  It smells like Italian food and looks like red wine.  We started off the day wanting lasagna and ended the day never wanting Italian food again for the rest of our lives.  We got the most wonderful deep mossy green from the deep red dye bath.  Who knew?  It was such a great color we wanted to be sure and do another dye pot before winter killed all the basil plants.  That fall we finally found time to do just that.  It was cooler then and we had a natural dye demo at one of the local nurseries.  We picked the purple basil and stewed it up just like we had during the summer but ended up getting no color whatsoever.  Fortunately, we had other natural dyes to demonstrate or we would have looked pretty foolish.  Having had that experience, I’m concerned about selling the marigolds since they may or may not give us good color.  A marigold dye pot is required to test out these fall-picked marigolds.

So last weekend we did a natural dye day.  I found a lady in western Canada who had a huge number of already mordanted skeins of yarn that she wanted to sell.  We settled on a price and she counted up what she had – nearly 150 skeins of Superwash Merino already mordanted with alum and ready for a natural dye pot.  Well, cool!  I paid for the yarn and she shipped it to me.  And Peggy and I had fun.  We didn’t get much color out of the avocado skins or the yellow flag iris rhizomes or the locust beans.   We got a great brownish yellow from the pomegranates, a passable pale orange from the Navajo carrots and a nice sunny yellow from the marigolds.   The avocado, iris and locust beans gave us various hues of beige.  They will all end up in some other dye pot this weekend.  Probably cochineal or madder.  I have indigo we could do but we seem to have lots of blue yarn so I think the warmer colors of red/orange will be the way to go.

And the rest of the dried marigolds will go on sale.