Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 8, Lady’s Thumb

Posted by Erin Howe on

I haven’t been using Latin names in these posts because I didn’t want to sound pretentious, but I’m realizing that when it comes to weeds, there are so many local names for things that someone searching might not be able to find my results if I don’t. Interesting to think that I, who am intensely Googling for information on dyeing with plants, will turn around and become Googled for it, but also, what a nice thought, that an amateur can offer her information and help another learn. So. Latin names. 

Persicaria maculosa or Polygonum persicaria, common names; lady’s thumb, redshank, spotted lady’s thumb, Jesusplant (there’s a story there that I wasn’t able to dig out of the internet), or smartweed. Persicaria is also the genus that boasts indigofera and tinctoria, the indigo plants. That and the words “has been used as a dye” were enough for me to put it in my pot. 

It is not, as we see, the same caliber as its cousins. Who is, really. But the wool takes a pretty yellow, and the color shift that the soda causes might be grounds for further study. 

Procedure notes:

200% weight of fabric/fiber, simmered for an hour, fabric/fiber simmered for another hour, then rinsed and dried. 


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