Sunflower Dye

Yes more dyeing and this time from a bag of sunflowers that Isabelle picked on her walk back from the gym.  (Technically she stole these flowers… proof that she isn’t so “perfect”)   While “googling”, I have seen many different colors coming from different types of sunflowers so I was curious as to what color I would get. (yes that is a subtle way of getting you to read or at least look at the rest of this post… admit it… you are wondering what color I will get too)

sunflowerdye 03

Above is the first 2 ply yarn made with my new spinning wheel (see It finally came! (my spinning wheel)).   I put this in an alum mordant for two hours to prepare it for the dye.

sunflowerdye 01

I first thought about only using the pedals and plucked them off into a pot(this pot is a big mistake… you will learn about that later)  Sunflower pedals are covered in sticky “guck” (can’t think of a better word) and all of the plucking made my fingers yellow and sticky.

sunflowerdye 02

After watching the water a bit I notice I was only getting a pale yellow and well I didn’t feel “yellow” so I decided to throw all of the rest of the flower parts in.   (Geez… I didn’t have to pluck).   The water turned an orange brown and well I didn’t feel like this either.   I decided to play with PH.   Making it more base made it turn to an ugly color of “gray/beige”.   I tried adding vinegar and this made it turn a red orange.  I kind of liked this color but you never know… with all of the dye experiment I have done lately I know that you can never trust the color of the water to predict the end result.

sunflowerdye 04

I decided that I had best do “trail” first.  I dropped some cotton yarn in and it didn’t come out the expected color. (I will show you the color later)  I decided that I would try the wool and hope that it wasn’t too ugly…  You can see the wool in the dye bath above and I like the color of the water in any case.

sunflowerdye 05

Here is the wool out of the dye and it is definitely not the same color as the cotton trail… how confusing.  I can’t imagine that cotton and wool would come out so different.  I then noticed that the cotton strings that I tied the wool up were the same color as the wool.

sunflowerdye 06

Here are the two together… weird huh.   I then took a closer look at the wool and noticed small parts of the yarn were green.  After some thinking… I finally figured out the problem.  The pot I used was not my typical “non-reactive” one and the trial cotton yarn sunk to the bottom and touched the pot.   The wool floated and didn’t touch the metal of the pot with the exception of some small areas.   Any part that touched the pot metal turned the greenish color while the parts that didn’t turned the rose color.

sunflowerdye 07

Here is the finished yarn next to the original color.   Ben told me it was cool and it was “skin” color. Isabelle told me she didn’t like it.  (the French harsh way…  I think she said “that is an ugly color”)  I like the color and I learned to be careful when choosing what pot to use to dye my yarn.

Thanks for reading this!

 

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13 thoughts on “Sunflower Dye”

  1. I have some thoughts on the color difference. Cotton and wool (and silk and other fibers) take dye up differently, usually for cotten it picks up less of the dye, but sometimes more. Did you mordent the cotton for as long as and in the same way as the wool? That can make a difference as well. As far as shifting the dye by adjusting the Ph, I was taught in a natural dye class to do that after dyeing with a material by using an afterbath (usually with a small bit of yarn in a cup before immersing the whole project) in a vinegar solution and/or an ammonia solution with a rinse in between. And lastly, the dye chemicals aren’t necessarily the same chemicals that color plant parts, so they may be concentrated in another part of the plant or give you a color different from what you see. For example, I know with dandelions you can get color both from the flower and above ground foliage and from the root and the two differ in vibrancy. You probably know at least some of this already and I don’t mean to rain on your experimental parade, but rather just to suggest some ways you could get more desirable results. Keep having fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved all of this advice!!! Thank you so much. I am going to try the after bath… hadn’t even thought of this… (i know so little… which makes discovering so exciting) you have given me so many things to play with… I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of this. Advice like this is so valuable (hope others reading this post will see your comments)

      Liked by 1 person

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