Dock seeds

I finally got round to dyeing the skein of yarn to contribute to the Ethel Mairet project at the Ditchling Museum. I’d already tried dyeing with dock roots, but the yarn came out muddy yellow withdockseeds added patches of mud (next time I’ll peel the roots). For the project I decided to try the seeds. I’d read in The colour cauldron (Su Grierson) that a red colour could be obtained by boiling the seeds successively over a few days. Tempting…

I managed to pick 70g of seeds whilst out walking on one of the many local reserves. The seeds were boiled for about an hour at a time for 4 days in total. The water didn’t change colour much, but I keep reminding myself that what you see is not usually what you get. The yarn was sheep’s wool, dockyarnmordanted with 8% alum/7% CoT wof, boiled for an hour or so, then left to cool overnight.

The picture shows the yarn (right, together with another woollen yarn) several shades lighter than reality (we’ll go for medium-dark beige), but still not the red I was hoping to get. Maybe tap water + (sub-)species + soil + rainfall + other variables? I’ll try again, but maybe with some copper added to the water and later in the season. Still, a worthwhile experiment.

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