Dyeing with fresh weld

I love living where I do for various reasons, one of them is being surrounded by miles of riversides perfect for long walks. Few weeks ago whilst enjoying family walk, I came across a barren area near the water, overgrown with brambles and weeds. In the midst of them a familiar plant caught my eye; weld (reseda luteola). A plant I was growing in my garden and eagerly waiting to harvest. There were shoots here and there and a lot of them. I had never seen any in the wild and have always considered weld a garden plant! I collected a handful, making sure I left plenty to go into seed for next year.

Weld flowering in the wild

Dye bath of weld flowers, leaves and stalk

I made a dye bath with the shoots as soon as I got home.
There was 30g of weld; I used the flowers, leaves as well as some bits of stalk. I dyed a 100g skein of yarn I pre mordanted with alum, a mixture of wool, silk and ramie.

I simmered the weld for an hour. I made sure to keep the temperature low, around 70 degrees. I have read that letting weld boil will change the colours to a duller yellow.

Dye bath after an hour of simmering

I added the yarn to the dye bath leaving the weld in with the skein. As I had such a small amount of weld, I wanted to make sure it had plenty of time to yield its colour. I kept the bath around 70 degrees for an hour and left it over night to cool down.

There was plenty colour left in the dye bath so I simmered the plants again and added more yarn. This time a 100g skein of bfl/bamboo. I repeated the previous dye process and then discarded the bath. I have been told that yellow dyes don’t usually give more than two baths and then they start loosing their colour fastness. I don’t know if this is actually true, but I had very little colour left in the pot.

L-R: BFL/Bamboo 2nd dye bath, Silk, merino and ramie 1st dye bath

The weld in my garden has just bloomed and the bottom leaves are starting to turn yellow. This is the time to harvest the shoots for the brightest colours, before all the leaves turn so two days ago I chopped it all up and carefully went through the stalks, saving some seeds for next year. I had two plants and that gave me 125g of dye material. As this was my very first weld harvest, I had some trouble choosing what to dye. I decided on some silk mohair, bfl/bamboo and a small skein of merino/nylon sock yarn. I repeated my earlier dye process

2nd year weld starting to bloom in April
Weld seed pods
L-R: Silk mohair, BFL/Bamboo and Merino/nylon 1st dye bath

I have doubled my weld plants this summer so hoping for even more gorgeous neon yellows next summer


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