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Mom experiments with raising woad natural dye plants

This yarn was dyed naturally with woad from Mom’s garden!

I just tried natural dyeing for the first time last week. It was fast, easy and cheap. Why did I wait so long?

I started my six woad seedlings (seed purchased from Pinetree) under lights in March. They proved to be indestructible—unconcerned about negligent watering and soil from the backyard. Oh wait! Did I forget to mention that woad is considered a noxious weed in some states? I just hope mine isn’t one of them. Once out in the garden they grew into large rosettes with thick, dark green leaves—again, almost no maintenance. When frost threatened, I prepared my first woad dyebath using the directions in Rita Buchanan’s book, A Dyer’s Garden. I was concerned when I read that my six woad plants would only dye 1oz of yarn! But I chose to disregard that information and dyed over a pound of yarn a nice powder blue if I do say so. I also boiled the leaves a second time for a dusty rose color. The directions for dyeing with woad require a couple of tablespoons of Spectralite which I had trouble finding until someone told me it is better known as thiorea dioxide, a staple in dye supply shops.

I’m definitely doing the woad thing next year but may just start the seeds in the garden as they are quite feisty.

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