Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare, fenouil, Fenchel, hinojo, finéal

I sowed a row of fennel to use as baby steamed vegetables, but never really got round to using them in the kitchen… so, save them for seeds. The row is now about 1m tall and thin… and in flower. Seeds – I’ll harvest them for seeds. A lot of the reachable feral plants on the local reserves have been cleared, no doubt by hard-working volunteers. The remaining plants can be glimpsed from the train window, but aren’t that easy to get to on foot. Also, the up-and-down weather this year and the recent high temperatures (38oC, 40oC…) have left most of those plants quite sparse.

OK, so on to the dyeing. I chose the plant that was nearest to the tomatoes and pulled it out, cutting off the root. Everything – stem, leaves and flower head – was chopped up and simmered for 45mins, with a few extra leaves thrown in. The water was a dark yellow, so I was hopeful of getting a similar shade or even something greener on the yarn.

fennel

Hmm.. left to right: 1, 3, 5, 7 no mordant; 2, 4, 6, 8 15% Wof A/CoT. 1 &  2 no modifiers; 3 & 4 alkaline modifier, 5 & 6 acid mod, 7 & 8 iron mod. Yet agin, the colours in real life are brighter and my IT skills don’t stretch to that amount of e-wizardry. I guess I could say that this is what I expected, even f I was hoping for a different result.

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Mixed bag

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 wamullein2s 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.

mulleinThe 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.