Ditch Weed: The Stink of Solar Dyeing

Queen Anne's Lace turns wool this lovely yellow using solar dyeing technique.Last time I posted, I shared I was starting some solar dyeing experiments with Queen Anne’s Lace. And as you can see from the image here, I did get a nice yellow. This was one week of wool sitting in a glass jar with the blossoms and water. Pretty, right?

Unfortunately, it stank even worse than I thought it would. All that lovely anaerobic rotting in the sun roiled out of the jar when I was checking it yesterday. My cat, Sam, startled and ran away. I put the lid back on very quickly, reluctant to work with the wool at that time.

But today I thought I might as well get if over with because it’s not going away. I had water at room temp, having filled the outdoor sink and a couple of buckets as soon as I got up this morning (thanks for the idea, Norrie!) Drained the wool through a metal strainer well out of range of the house, then quickly popped it into the warmish, soapy water for a soak. Thirty minutes later, I rinsed it a couple of times and spread it out to dry in the sun.

I also cleaned up the marigold jar that was set up at the same time. The marigolds had completed their seed-creation process while in the jar and the wool was full of vegetable matter. No dyeing had taken place so I just relegated that mess to the garden. I’m using it for mulch.

I can still smell this stuff on my hands. I’ve washed them in hot soapy water, cleaned the bathroom with Lime-Away sans gloves, and picked up walnuts. Still get a whiff of rot – and walnuts, the oil is pretty stubborn- from my hands as I sit here typing.

I’ve a second pot of Queen Anne’s Lace simmering; I learned my lesson. Plant matter is definitely a simmer dye pot. Roots work well for cold water dyeing, of course! And I found my supply of Osage orange so I should set up a solar dyeing experiment with that soon.

I don’t know that I will ever try this again….maybe a cool water dye pot that is not anaerobic would not rot as much? Got any advice?



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