Just a small amount of woad leaves from my first harvest
Back last spring, I was excited to receive some woad seeds from a friend in Norway.
I’m unsure about the variety of woad these seeds were, but based on photos online, I suspected that they were European Woad ( Isatis Tinctoria ) versus Chinese Woad (Isatis Indigotica). The Chinese version apparently isn’t particularly good for dyeing, as it doesn’t have enough indigotin compared to the European variety.
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Rhubarb dyed and mordanted wool, along with untreated wool
Rhubarb leaf mordant
Along with chemical mordants like aluminum, copper, and iron, Jenny Dean also notes the use of staghorn sumac leaves, and oak galls as possible sources of natural mordants in Wild Colour: The complete guide to making and using natural dyes. These are rich in tannin she notes, which helps colour adhere and increases light and wash-fastness on vegetable fibres.
However, since I am LOVING spinning wool (and didnt’ love spinning hemp or flax that much in comparison) I really was interested to read about her recommendation for protein fibers – rhubarb leaves. Continue reading →