Dyeing with Marigold and Red Cabbage

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Since my marigolds are still blooming like crazy around here and I was rather impressed with the results from last time, I decided to do another round with squishy soft Malabrigo. This one turned out a little less orange-y and instead is more of a classic yellow. Last time I only used the petals but this time I used the whole flower head, green bits and all. Next time I’m going to try with just the petals again.

This year I planted twelve red cabbage and only six or seven of them resulted in decent sized heads. The others were scrawny things that were refusing to get any bigger so I reserved them for dye experiments. Red cabbage is a notorious fugitive dye. The dye pot is rich and lovely but the color doesn’t always hold well to fiber. I was lucky. I used my standby alum and cream of tartar to prep the fiber. With certain dye materials, the pH of the bath can have a big effect on the color. With red cabbage, adding an acidic modifier, like vinegar, will result in more pink shades while an alkaline one will shift more towards blues. So I grabbed some baking soda and sprinkled it right in the pot and basically said “Whoa!” when I saw it transform from pink to blue. In the pot, it was the most perfect mermaid blue-green and even though it bled some of the richness out, it’s still a perfectly pale aquatic/mint blue-green. Definitely a nice break from the yellows and browns I’ve got from plant dyes. I only did this one skein since I wasn’t sure any color would stick but now I’m tempted to grow a garden full of red cabbage next year just so I can get more of these beautiful shades.

Next week I’ll share the results of the walnut dyes I did the same day.