Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Will It be Gold?

I have a whole field full of this which turns out to be Golden Ragwort. I just found this out last Saturday. I was mowing, and everytime I'd go past the field, I'd think, 'I KNOW that's not mustard' After I was done mowing, I got out my weed and herb and garden books, in search of the plant. I could not find any good pictures, I finally had to go online and find the identification.

What it is commonly known as, is squaw weed.

When I was chatting with my coworkers Monday, on a coffee break, I told them about the field full of flowers, and finding out it's ID. I said that is was called squaw weed, but I couldn't figure out why, because that usually meant it was useful in the tribal home remedies. And this was definately not a common medicinal plant. Then one coworker said, 'maybe it was good for dyeing things, that should be right up your alley!'

(Insert picture of me smacking myself on the side of the head).

My coworkers know me better than I do, it seems.

So that was my intention this morning, to gather enough to try one dyebath with it. I will not be able to do that until the weekend, however, since this field is the one that could be plowed 'any day now' by the farmer that rents the land for planting, I wanted to be sure to get some picked.

I found out there could not be an easier plant to wild pick. It stands waist high, and all one has to do is smack the plant to move any insects along off the plant (figured that out after a bee did get in the bucket) and then bend the plant top over the bucket and snip the blossom. I cut a five gallon bucket full of blossoms in about five minutes. And I probably took a 50 foot length of a very large 2 acre field full of these flowers. They are there by the thousands.

I have no idea if the plant will dye yarn a pretty color or not. I have seen it listed in one natural dye list as giving a gold color, but no indication of what mordent was given. I only have alum to use as a mordant, so this will be, all in all, a very limited dye experiment. Still, I am looking forward to trying, and then maybe in a week or two, showing off the yarn to my coworkers.


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