How to Dye Yarn with Goldenrod

Yesterday a good friend of mine came over and we dyed some yarn with the Goldenrod I picked along side the road. (That’s cotton you see in the background. It’s almost ready for harvest.)


This time of year it’s prolific in our area.


It’s beautiful in nature and it makes a beautiful Natural Dye for fiber too!

The wool must have a Mordant on it. This can be done ahead of time as I did or you can add the Alum and Cream of Tartar directly to the pot. The amounts used are the same for either method.


Whenever you dye wool, you want to be prepared. You will need a large pot that is not used for cooking, something to stir with, a large spoon or even a smooth stick will work. A heat source. You may want gloves, but it really isn’t necessary for Goldenrod. And of course wool or other fiber tied neatly into skeins. If you want to use roving it helps to tie it up loosely in a piece of netting. Old panty hose work well too if you have any.

It’s also best to work outside if at all possible.


Fill your pot with water and the Goldenrod. If you take time to remove the stems and use mostly flowers you will be rewarded with a brighter yellow. I plan to give mine an iron after bath so I’m not too concerned with that (keep reading to find out why!)

Bring the pot to a simmer and hold it there for at least a couple of hours. Try not to boil it as this will bring out a bit of brown in the color. Take out all the flowers and leaves and pour the remaining liquid through a strainer to remove any left over debris.


Now you can either have you yarn ready by bringing it up to temperature in a separate pot or you can let the dye bath cool to room temperature before adding the wool. Placing the fiber directly into hot water will cause it to felt.


Bring the heat back up and again simmer, don’t boil, for an hour or so. Remove from heat and cool in the pot for maximum absorption.


Once cool, rinse gently, but thoroughly and hang to dry.

In my post about mordanting I mentioned some yarn I got on Ebay. Well, as it turns out it was not the content they advertised. It must be mostly Acrylic. Take a look at the very light yarn in the above photo. See how it didn’t take the dye? I’m very disappointed. But I guess you get what you pay for and since the label was printed in Chinese, I wasn’t able to read it. Oh well..

Now what about that Iron??

I love the color Yellow that is derived from the flowers, but I just don’t ever wear it. I feel more comfortable in Green. So I take my skeins, now dyed yellow, and put them into a pot along with some rusty iron. I like to use old horseshoes. Yep. Simmer for a short time until you get the desired level of green.


This process is called saddening the wool – but I don’t know why because it makes me happy!

Here’s the before and after – DSC_0038

I’m going to use the little skein for another project.


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