• Kayla Powers

Marigold Green

My precious dried marigolds! We have had a few days in a row of gray winter weather here in Detroit and getting these beauties into the dye pot felt like a form of color therapy. They produce such a cheery yellow on fiber but I couldn't resist adding a splash of my iron water to push the color towards green. I'll share a bit of the process and links to learn more.


This is a photo my friend Jenna took of my little garden plot last Spring. The marigolds I dyed with are a "safari red" variety. As you may know from following my instagram, I am not one to measure things very precisely or sometimes at all. So I'm sorry to say I have no idea how many flowers or the weight of flowers that I dyed with. My feeling is that you can add more if you want a more saturated color or add water to dilute. The stakes are low.


These flowers were harvested in August last year and laid out on an old window screen to dry. It's good for them to have air circulating to dry. Otherwise your flower petals can get moldy.

So you can see the pile of dried marigolds is about the size of one skein of wool. This wool weighs about 150g and has been scoured (washed) and mordanted in potassium aluminum sulfate (aka alum). I bought this from MAIWA, a shop/school/heaven in Vancouver, BC that I always recommend. They also have some very thorough *free* information about mordanting so you can refer to their site for more information.


I added the dried marigolds to a large stainless steel/enamel pot and simmered for about an hour and then turn the heat off and let it sit for a few hours.

While the marigolds were simmering, I soaked the wool in water. It's good to give it at least an hour to fully soak. More is fine! Then I strained the marigolds out of my pot and added my fiber. It's hard to capture the color with an iPhone but you can see the yellow tones. I heated the pot with the wool in it to allow the color to fully absorb. Then I turned the heat off, put the lid on and let it sit over night. The result was this very bright, warm and fully saturated yellow. I rinsed the yarn (which was now room temperature) in tepid water until it ran clear.

You could leave the color just like this! But, as you know, I was after green. So I added just a splash of my homemade iron water. I can't remember where I found the instructions of how to make this but it's out there somewhere. I found a rusty piece of metal on a foraging walk one day and put it in a jar with vinegar and water. There was some oxygenating, shaking, transferring etc. and now I have a jar of seemingly quite potent iron water.

One splash or maybe two tablespoons turned the bath mossy green right away. I stirred it in and heated the pot again. And again, I put the wool into the dye bath and stirred/let sit for a couple hours. The results were just what I was hoping for. A really earthy, deep green. It has definite undertones of yellow and I suppose if you added a touch more iron it would shift it further to green but I feel really happy with this color. Natural dyes often produce my favorite colors. So unique. Rich and dynamic, shifting in the light. I can feel the warm summer sun in the golden tones but am not overwhelmed by that bright yellow as above.

I'll leave you with this photo of a dye pot full of marigolds in the summertime. Leave any questions in the comments. Thanks for being here.


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