Dyeing with Goldenrod

I have had such a love affair with goldenrod this year and two of its varieties; Canadian and European goldenrod. I’ts a plant worth waiting for as goldenrod blooms in the end of summer, around August when most other wild flowers begin to wilt.

Canadian Goldenrod (solidago canadensis) has been and elusive plant for me in past. When I have found some, it always seemed to be out of my reach; growing on the wrong side of train tracks and in private gardens. I was given a small amount of slightly wilted goldenrod blooms last summer by my friend Mandy. I dyed with those, a small dye bath and got a nice yellow on a wool and nylon yarn.
This year I have been on a mission to introduce it to my dye life properly. I bought a plant to my garden which was a start, but to my delight I have been able to find it in nature. Up in the lake district a huge cluster of goldenrod flowers were in full bloom when we drove past this August. Naturally on the way back we stopped and I managed to collect 800g of flowers. They had to wait for two days for my return to London and my dye pots. I decided to dye some special skeins of Finn sheep wool; 300 g in total, just for me as well as a sample of silk (all pre mordanted with alum) and was over joyed for a strong golden yellow colour on both. I used my usual method of dyeing; an hour of simmering for the plant material then I strained the liquid. I added in my fibres for an hour (80 degrees) and left to them cool over night in the dye bath.

Finn sheep wool dyed with Canadian goldenrod

I used the dye bath again and dyed another 400g of bfl/bamboo and got a cooler yellow. I used quite a large amount of yarn/dye stuff and I wonder how strong the colour would have been in second bath with less yarn.

To my excitement I have started seeing more plants in the wild near my home too. I collected another 400g from the riverside near me, which I saved in the freezer for some winter dyeing. The blooms from my garden have also been picked and frozen for darker days. You can only imagine what my freezer looks like! I tried to dry some too, but the blooms turned white and I’ve heard they loose a lot if their colour if stored this way.

European goldenrod in bloom in July

Dye bath of European goldenrod

European Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) is everywhere in Finland. I was lucky to spend my summer home in the countryside and got to dye with this variety. During my stay I collected 500 g of blooms from the roadside and dyed 120g of yarn as well as a silk sample with it. Although the dye bath was strong yellow, the skeins turned out a cooler yellow than the Canadian variety.

Wool/bamboo and merino/nylon dyed with European goldenrod

Last week I dyed some more with Canadian goldenrod, picked from the back of a nearby train station. The blooms have started turning brown and the colour in the dye bath was quite brownish yellow. I dyed some plant fibres as well as wool yarns. I pre mordanted my cotton with soymilk and linen with aluminium acetate. The linen turned a very pale yellow when the cotton took on a brownish yellow colour. All the wool fibres dyed a good bright yellow.

L-R: cotton, linen and silk dyed with canadian goldenrod. Silk dyed with european goldenrod
Various fibres dyed with Canadian goldenrod

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