Dandelions--they make the gardener wince and the hippie dance. We think they're pretty cool. All parts of the overly-plentiful plant are edible, drinkable and they're a staple of childhood memories filled with wishes, crowns, and some kid rhyming thing I vaguely remember where you use your friend's arm as a slide and pretend the dandelion is a kid who slides down the slide and pees the whole way down, leaving a yellow mark smeared on your arm (anyone else?!) I recently stumbled upon a natural dye website that stated that their roots can be used to make a magenta color on wool when mordanted with alum. After doing some research, it seemed like this color was pretty elusive to many (everybody, in fact, but one source I could find), but I wanted to test it out. As cool as they are, them dandelion roots are DEEP and a pain to get out. Block off a few hours if you want to try it for yourself!
I couldn't find a recipe for the roots, so I prepped them in several ways.
Way #1: Soaked the roots for about 5 hours, chopped them up, and simmered them for 4 hours. This way produced absolutely no color on mordanted wool. Don't try it.
Way #2: Soaked the roots for about 4 days and turned often to prevent mold from building up (it. smelled. gross.), rinsed them, blended them in my blender (would never do this normally, but since dandelion roots are edible, I didn't see the harm) and then simmered them for about 5 hours. The pulpy water was a more convincing dye color than in my first try. I let it cool, kept my wool at approximately the same temperature, added it to the dye bath, and slowly turned the heat back up so as to not felt the wool. After simmering for about an hour and then leaving to cool for about 5, the color produced a subtle, light tan. Definitely not magenta. I used equal parts WOG to dye stuff.
Way #3- Still in process: I'm drying the roots for several months (following madder root recipes). In a few months, I'll soak them for 24 hours or so, blend them, and heat them for the dye bath.
I had a ton of dandelion flowers left over after digging up all those roots, so I threw them into the pot at 75% WOG to dyestuff. I simmered them for about 2 hours, strained them out, let the dye bath cool a little, and in went the wool. I Got a bright, bright yellow color on my alum-mordanted wool. I don't really need more yellow wool, but it is pretty (and prevalent! I could dye curtains for my entire house!) I also had some silk ribbon (mordanted in aluminum sulfate as well) that I threw into the dye bath too. It came out a softer yellow color, possibly because of the natural color of the silk--a light tan.
Note- if you hold the secret to the mysterious magenta-dandelion-root-dye-bath-color, please comment!
Thanks to DavenportGroves for the wool!