One of our customers recently shared her dye experiments using Hopi red dye amaranth seeds purchased from our shop. Now is the perfect time of year to plant your seeds for a dyers’ garden (click here to read a related post from our blog archive penned by Dagmar Klos, an expert in natural dye techniques). We hope today’s post inspires you to try some natural dyeing this year!
All the Best,
Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery Team
The plants were easy to grow – turns out, it was much more difficult to find information on using Amaranth as a fabric dye, so hopefully this experiment is of use to others. Many sites concluded that this particular dyestuff had been used to dye foods, not fabrics.* I had read somewhere that high heat makes yellow with Amaranth, so decided to go with a solar extraction for dye preparation (click here for DIY solar dyeing instructions).
First, I packed flower heads, leaves and stems into a gallon glass jar. Water was added to completely fill the jar and displace all air before screwing on the lid. The jar sat in my garden in the sun for about 10 days until the fluid was a bright magenta color. The dyebath was then strained and put into 4 quart jars with 1 oz mini-skeins of yarn that had been treated with different mordants. The 4 quart jars were placed in the sunny garden to steep for about 10 days. Below are the results, from left to right:
No mordant gave a greenish tan; Alum gave the closest thing to red and was a pretty kind of pinkish-mauve color; Alum with a pinch of Tin gave a gold color; Tin resulted in a golden brown color. Far right: the amaranth plant.
Solar dyeing was much easier than heating everything on the stove!
– Anne Oldham, summer of 2015
*”Another Hopi dye plant, C2. Hopi Red Dye Amaranth, was used to color piki bread(a very thin corn bread) but we don’t think it was used to dye cloth.” (From THE WEAVER’S GARDEN, by Rita Buchanan. Interweave Press, 1987, reprinted in The Seedhead News, No. 26, 1989) found somewhere on the web.