Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 4, False Dandelion

Posted by Erin Howe on

First of all, who decides which plant is true and which is false? Dandelion is the real thing and false dandelion is only pretending? Hmph. 

Ok, got that off my chest. These guys grow in huge drifts all over the parts of my farm that are trying to be lawn, between mowings. They’re not like the little dandelions that get 6-8” tall, these are usually knee high when they bloom on their wiry stems.

They bloom in the morning only. I can look out and see them waving in the sunshine before noon, but after that, every one of them has closed up shop. I finished this batch of samples after noon, and I was out of luck for getting blooms to take the photo with until the next morning. Bees love false dandelions, and that and their waves of yellow morning flowers make me less inclined to hurry up and mow. 

When I gathered the flowers for this dyebath, I didn’t yet have an idea of what .4 oz of flowerheads looked like, or even a really clear idea that .4 oz was what I needed. So my daughter and I happily scythed a whole bucket full and sat in the shady north-facing garage chatting and popping their heads off. We could have dyed an entire wool coat with the flowerheads we collected. .4 oz is just a small handful of most things, as it turns out. We laughed and laughed when we realized how much too much we had. But we did have a lovely time. 

It seems to be general to dyeing that the cellulose fibers, linen and cotton, won’t take up as much dye as wool and silk. So I constantly get this dark square of felt and a pastel top row in my photos. Pretty pale greens, in cotton and linen, darker with wool and silk. Baking soda warms the color a bit. 

Procedure notes:

I used .4 oz flower heads to my .2 oz of fabric/fiber.


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