Taking part in the dyeing project

In Ethel Mairet’s book ‘Vegetable Dyes’ there are many recipes to follow or a list of British Dye Plants listed under colour. Under ‘purple’ was Dandelion root, which I thought pretty unlikely as it would have been mentioned in other dye book. Up for a challenge I thought why not have a go. Lucy Jenner at the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft sent 10g of linen, my thread of choice.

Dandelion root found on our allotment…..


Taking Jenny Dean’s recommendation for dyeing with dock root I washed and cut up the dandelion root and soaked it for a day. Then ‘boiled’ for a couple of hours……..


Mordanting the thread from Ether Mairet’s description for linen was slightly different to how I would normally (5% Alum Acetate of dry weight of thread). Firstly she recommended using a tannin solution (I made from Sumac leaves), followed by mordanting in Alum Acetate twice, rinsing and drying between batches….


There was a reference to ‘fixing’ the mordant by passing through a weak solution of ‘chloride of lime’ which sounded rather toxic so I made a weak alkali solution using a couple drops of ammonia with lots of water. I have no idea if this made any difference to the result. The thread was simmered in the strained dandelion root dye for about 45 mins, cooled in the solution, rinsed, dried then washed.

In the end did I achieve purple?……sadly no, the colour was very similar to the dye solution, a pale soft yellow/olive green. In my haste to send it off to Ditchling Musuem of Art + Craft I forgot to take a photo, so you’ll have to visit the museum instead.

Great project to get involved with



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