It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I’ve been working on some beautiful silk camisoles and slip dresses freshly colored with plant dyes. The dyepots are full of rainwater, which is usually free of additives and ph neutral, making it useful for natural dyes.
On the other side of the coin, it’s been raining every day, preventing me from using my outdoor workspace with any regularity. So, last week I looked for a plant that I could use indoors. First of all, most plants aren’t in full fruition right now. Second, many natural dyes need outdoor ventilation, not always for safety, but because indoors, they can be a bit strong. Especially the fermented lichens and mushrooms I use to create pinks and purples! So I thought, aside from collecting rainwater, what can I work on right now, especially for those Valentine colors?
So I picked up a red cabbage at the market, and did some indoor silk dying with the latest pots of rainwater. Last Easter my son and I colored eggs with natural materials. After the eggs were finished, I dipped a silk scarf in the cabbage pot, and it yielded a gorgeous violet. Cabbage is ph sensitive, so adding a little baking soda makes the color more turquoise, and adding vinegar makes it more on the pink side. Neutral ph keeps it squarely in purple territory.
While I’m looking forward to cooking up homegrown dye plants and foraged flora and fungi later in the season, for now, I’m happy to work inside with these more easily accessible plants. I brought in one of my dyepots, full of precious rainwater, and cooked the cabbage until the bubbling brew became a gorgeous purple color. Then I added silk and wool, and let it simmer for a long while. The resulting colors on silk are perfect for Valentines Day, whether for a friend or a little self-care love to yourself.