Natural Dyeing – Marigold

My favorite natural dye so far is made using marigolds.  I love yellow – with sunflower yellow being probably my favorite form of yellow (though a pale light lemony yellow makes me really happy too).  So, imagine my delight when I realized that I had picked up an ounce of dried marigold flowers at the Rhinebeck festival to make a marigold dye and had forgotten it was in the cabinet with my other dyes until I was looking for my indigo powder.  I still had two mordanted undyed skeins of yarn in my stash so off we went.

First I put my one ounce of marigold flowers into one quart of water and stirred it.

I brought the water to a boil and boiled the flowers for 60 minutes.

Then I strained out the marigolds using a metal strainer – next time I will use something which is even tighter – maybe lined with pantyhose type netting – as tiny portions of flower still got into the dye pot.

This left a pot of really beautiful orangey dye.

Doesn’t that look just beautiful?  As a dyer, this pot made me just shiver.  Loved it!!

I then let the contents of the pot cool down while I soaked my pre-mordanted skein of yarn for 15 minutes.  I then added the wet skein of alum mordanted 100% merino wool to the dye pot and slowly (over 45 minutes) raised the temperature of the dye to 180 degrees.

While the dye pot looked to hold alot of orange, the yarn picked up the yellow/gold tones of the flowers.

I simmered the yarn at 180 degrees for 30 minutes and then left it in the pot to cool.  After the yarn and the dye was cooled I lifted it out and hung it over the pot while the last of the dye drained back into the dye pot.

I let this yarn dry completely before rinsing – I did not think it really made any difference in the amount of times I had to rinse this yarn though and the first skein ended up felting alot in the process.  While the resulting yarn is useful for me, it is not sellable.  Too nubby.  I really have to work on getting a more successful rinse process down.

As you can see from the above, there was still plenty of dye left in the pot to do a second exhaust bath skein – which I did.  I followed the same procedure as I did for the first pot and then left the second skein in the pot overnight before draining it, letting it dry and then rinsing it.

Here are the two resulting skeins of marigold dyed yarn.

Obviously the darker gold skein is the first skein I dyed and the lighter gold is the second one.  I also took a picture of the two skeins against the Weld-dyed yarn just to show you the difference in yellows that I have been able to get with the natural dyes.

The orange tones in the marigold are more obvious when set against the weld.

I am very very happy with how this all worked.  Needless to say, I plan on planting LOTS of marigolds this spring.  I am hoping to be able to produce an even stronger orange tone by harvesting the redder plants separately from the golden marigolds.  I will let you know how it goes.

I am still hoping to be able to show you something new that anyone can do at home next week – but there’s alot of prep that has to be done first.  Fingers-crossed it will be really cool.  Be sure to check back.

Tomorrow is something wonderful that Chip made – and Yikes! – I have to get to work on what I want to show you on Friday.  This whole working thing sure can get in the way of keeping up with projects.  :p  Thanks for checking in with us.

About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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5 Responses to Natural Dyeing – Marigold

  1. Gwendolyn says:

    Wonderful tutorial, thank you! I was wondering, since I am new to dyeing, if a finished knitted project that I intend to felt should be felted first before dying, or after? I plan to use marigolds. Thank you!

    • Shelly R. says:

      Alas, I have not dyed felt, so I am not sure of how it would take, though I have seen wonderfully dyed felt – though it was knitted first – this was felted fleece.
      I think it depends on what you want your finished product to look like. If it is knit first, there will be parts where the dye does not penetrate as evenly. That is why your yarn is left loose in your dye pot – so the dye can penetrate all of the fibers. You can get a more even color in your project I would expect than if you take a knit hat and then dye it. Felt is more of a solid mat – denser. I think if it was me, I would take my felted project, dye it unevenly by pouring the dye over it and then using a microwave or a steamer to heat set the dye. It just allows you to be more creative with your color. I may now have to try this. 🙂

  2. loved your post. You have a fulfilling a life. I am picking up working with textiles, though I write extensively on it, documenting and researching it. Apart from pre-investment studies for businesses. My mother instilled this love for textiles. I love what you write about your grandmom and this tutorial is excellent. It will be nice to exchange notes on natural dyeing from here in India.


  3. Thank you very much. I am asked to do marigold dyeing and already have a lot of experience with natural dyes but not with flowers. I am happy to start with them now. Kind regards, Leentje van Hengel,, facebook : Tinctoria natural.

  4. Pingback: A Day in the Life… | June Wildflower

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