Foeiniculum vulgare et Verbascum thapsus, fennel and mullein, fenouil et molène, Fenchel und Pyramiden-Königskerze, hinojo y gordolobo, finéal is coinnle Muire
Fennel is quite a weed in the Adelaide Hills, and every day on my way home I’ve eyed a large patch from the train window. Unfortunately it’s along the stretch of the line where mobile reception is bad, so I can never get an exact fix on its location. Still, there was a smaller bunch growing near my local station, so a-harvesting I went.
The result was not good at all – maybe because I’d included stem instead of more leaves and flowers? I can try again next week. Rather than waste the yarn, I decided to overdye with mullein.
The mordanted yarns came up more yellow, or rather a more intense (albeit slight) shade of the same mustardy-yellow. I wonder if the texture of the yarn had anything to do with refraction (the yarn is now at the end of the ball and is a lot more open, like singles rather than plied).
I first came across the German name for mullein in one of Horst Bienek’s novels; a boy collects the flowers and sells them to the local chemist. Interestingly, the name translates into English as King’s candle, whereas the Irish name is Mary’s candle. Other English names are Aaron’s rod and Adam’s rod… not to mention Cowboy’s toilet paper.