Dyeing with Jewelweed

Man, dyeing stuff with plant material is just so much fun. Since I wasn’t crazy about the yellow color the marigolds dyed my yarn (it’s for a sweater for myself, and I am just not going to wear big bird yellow, no matter how sunny and lovely a color it is), I wanted to try over-dyeing it with jewel weed.


It’s a great time of year to find jewel weed and there are huge stands right in my neighborhood.  Above is the prettier spot- tucked down in a creek valley that runs along a street just a few blocks from me.  I also picked a bunch on another street, but it was littered with trash, old tvs and even a few rats.

Since it would be a few days until the dye bath, I chopped and froze half of what I had gathered, and left the other half to wilt in a paper bag.  Just ’cause.


Tuesday night, I headed over to my bud Heidi’s house.  She has an outdoor range so we didn’t heat/steam up the house with the hours of boiling.  You can see her chicken coop and bunny hutches at the back of the yard.

3She had pre-mordanted her yarn and mine was good to go since once you’ve used a mordant, you don’t have to redo it, even with multiple dyes- or so I am told.  I did pre-wet it, however.  We set the big pot (it was her great grandmother’s) on the stove, filled it with water and the jewelweed and set her a-boil!

456We let that boil for an hour or so, then strained out the jewel weed bits.  Heidi demonstrates good bio-mechanics- lift with your knees!


Then we poured the dye water back into the big pot.  Look at that color!  You can see my yellow yarn to the right of me in this picture- it won’t be yellow for long!


Look what happens with just a dip!9

Dyeing with a good buddy and a couple beers isn’t required for a successful dyeing experience, but it’s highly recommended.  The moon is bonus points.


And we stirred it sometimes- or more accurately- mashed the stuff gently back down into the liquid.  After a little over an hour, we turned the burner off and left it to sit overnight.

11I haven’t seen the final product in person yet, but Heidi sent me these photos of them the next morning before rinsing.


I’m sure they won’t be quite this vivid after the rinse, but I am absolutely in love with the color.


I would definitely wear a sweater THAT color!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim says:

    That is so very, very cool! I can’t wait to see the finished result.

  2. harperleich says:

    Me, neither! The suspense is killing me!! 🙂

  3. Amelia says:

    What a great color! I’m impressed with your dyeing skills, my friend.

    1. harperleich says:

      Why thank you, friend! It’s a lot of fun!

  4. Elena says:

    Lovely post! I have a question, I’m dying jewel weed myself and am curious about your ratio of jewel weed to water, and how much wool you used? It looks so beautiful!


    1. harperleich says:

      I wish I kept better notes!! I’m kind of a ‘folk method’ type so I probably didn’t really measure. I bet I just loaded up as much jewel weed as I could. I know I was using a huge, huge pot and had gathered several bags worth of plant material. Probably not very helpful! Best of luck to you!

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