Dyeing with Sorrel Root

Sometimes when I read something and there is one key word that doesn’t compute, it’s like my brain just jumps over the entire topic. Some time ago, searching for information on Xanthoria parietina and its pigment parietin, I came across information on the Rumex family. This is what I wrote back then

Parietin, Wikipedia informs us, is also found in the roots of curled dock (Rumex crispus, kruset skræppe in Danish). Jenny Dean lists the roots of curled dock, dock, and sorrel as sources of reddish browns, but I’m not sure if that has anything to do with its parietin content

but I didn’t connect it to anything, because I didn’t immediately see a plant in my mind’s eye. This summer, I actually went through the trouble of looking it up (sic), and found that it is a very common plant around here.

I gathered these plants in late June:

rumexplant

and I’m quite sure it’s Rumex acetosa (common or garden sorrel, in Danish almindelig syre) which, according to this, you can also eat the young leaves from. It often grows in damp or even wet places. It is actually a bit hard to pull the root up, it’s easier the wetter the soil.

I tried dyeing with the roots according to the method in Jenny Dean’s “Wild Color”: I took 150 g of fresh roots, washed and chopped them, and at that point you can tell that they have some color in them:

rumexroot

I then soaked them overnight, although I’m not sure that step is necessary when using fresh roots. No color worth mentioning came out of it at that point…

But it did give very nice reddish brown (just as Dean promised) when heated. I just kept repeating with 10-g test skeins, it took 4 skeins to exhaust the bath. That’s a very good dye bath in my book! All the plant tops from those roots gave a brownish red-tinged yellow which is actually pretty nice, but I just tried that one one skein. Together they look like this – front to back its first to fourth root bath, then the plant tops all the way in the back:

rumexdyedwool

The result is quite pleasing, I think, and I began seeing similar plants just about everywhere. Another one that’s common around here is this one

rlongifolius

which is another member of the Rumex family, probably Rumex longifolius (dooryard dock, in Danish by-skræppe) or Rumex crispus (curled dock, in Danish kruset skræppe). I’ve dug up some of these and dried the roots, to be saved for the meager dyeing days of winter.

FACTS – Rumex acetosa roots

Mordant 10% alum

Water Tap

Yarn Supersoft 575 m/100 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 1:15 fresh roots was enough for 4 dye baths

Conclusion Lovely red-brown color

Possible improvements Not sure! This works!

Jeg har eksperimenteret med farven fra rødderne af almindelig syre, en af de almindelige skræppearter. De rødbrune toner var uventet dybe og lækre, og rødderne rækker ganske langt. Jeg har tørret rødderne af en anden af de almindelige skræppearter (ved ikke helt om det er by-skræppe eller kruset skræppe, men tror også det er ligegyldigt) så jeg har dem til vinterens farvning.

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