My First French Broom Adventure

French broom (Genista monspessulanamakes a lovely natural dye. The yellow blossoms yield a rich buttery color, while the green stems make for a nice, slightly acidic green. I hadn't tried dyeing with broom before, and so when I saw large patches of yellow broom blossoms growing along the side of a quiet road near our home, I decided to get out the pruners and bring some home with me. (What, doesn't everybody keep a basket of garden tools in the trunk of their car?)

I'm normally an avid practitioner of responsible wild harvesting in respect to the plants, but broom is classified as a highly invasive, noxious weed. It grows along roadsides and in other recently disturbed or developed land, and can grow out of control very quickly, pushing out native species more beneficial to the local ecosystem. It also catches fire very easily, which adds to the fire hazard present during this historical California drought. Needless to say, I wasn't careful about preserving any of the broom plants I harvested from. 

               

After bringing my broom bounty home, I separated the blossoms from the green stems. It was painstaking, but worth it. I placed the blossoms in an enameled pot, and the stems and leaves went into a vintage enameled pot with cracked enamel and rusty spots. I love this rusty old pot for adding iron to dye baths; and I chose it for the stems so it would hopefully enrich the green tones.

It took a good couple of days to really being out the broom's color into the dye bath, particularly the yellow in the flowers. I found that slow and low were best here; of i had a slow cooker devoted to dyeing, I would have opted to use that. Same went for imparting the dye to the fibers; a good amount of time over medium low heat, plus a day or two of rest in the dye, yielded beautiful results. 

               


 My favorite thing about dyeing with the yellow broom blossoms (besides the beautiful creamy yellow yarn) was the smell! I did this dyeing at our home, and the whole kitchen smelled like honeysuckle blossoms, but earthier. The yarn has the same smell as well, I can't stop huffing it.

               


The green pot turned out okay, perhaps less green than I'd hoped; but I still managed to achieve a nice yellow-green color. I think next time I'll use an iron mordant, and see what difference that makes. 

               

Overall, I loved dyeing with broom. I can't wait to get my hands on more of it!

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, that's amazing!

    Were these colors reasonably lightfast?

    ReplyDelete