poetry and prose about place

harvesting colour – mail order weld and woad

with 2 comments

The final manuscript of poetry from my ‘harvesting colour’ project is due at the end of October.  However, I don’t think these adventures with using natural dyes are ending.  I have enjoyed this project so much and I am so proud of my basket of home-dyed, hand spun yarns.


some of my balls of hand dyed wool

some of my balls of hand dyed wool


balls of hand-dyed wool



I took a step towards next year’s batch of yarn by thinking about starting a dyer’s garden  (so many of the interesting plants I have read about are not available locally).  I would love to try growing some of those traditional medieval-sounding plants in my dyeing.  Weld, Woad and Woadwaxen – don’t they sound almost magical?  Most of the plants used through the ages for dyeing have the species name of tinctoria, tinctorius, tinctorium, or tinctorum (from the Latin tingo, tingere – to dip, to soak, to dye).

Examples of plants with ‘Dyer’s’ in the common name or ‘tinct‘ in the species name are:

  • Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) – flowers give pink or yellow
  • Dyer’s Alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria (L.) Tausch) – roots give purple-grey
  • Dyer’s Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria L.) – flowers or leaves give a greeny-yellow
  • Dyer’s Mulberry, Fustic (Chlorophora tinctoria (L.) Gaudich.) – wood gives a greeny-yellow
  • Dyer’s Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt.) – flowers give an orange or brown
  • Dyer’s Greenwood, Woadwaxen (Genista tinctoria L.) – plant tops give a pale green or yellow
  • Dyer’s Woad, Woad (Isatis tinctoria L.) – leaves give blue
  • Weld or Dyer’s Rocket (Reseda luteola L.) – plants tops give yellow
  • Madder (Rubia tinctorum L.) – roots give red
  • Dyer’s Knotweed, Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium Aiton) – leaves give blue


To begin with, I sent to Richters Herb Specialists ( ) in Goodwood, Ontario for Weld and Woad.  And I have Rita Buchanan’s book A Dyer’s Garden to help me get the best results.


packets of seed for planting next spring

packets of seed for planting next spring


Well, the seeds have now arrived.  Next spring I’ll find a sheltered spot with the right conditions and try to grow these two.  I listen to the tiny seeds shaking in their packets and wish for May.


Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

October 3, 2014 at 7:09 am

2 Responses

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  1. Anticipation is such a good thing.

    Come along May! 🙂




    Bruce McKenna

    October 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    • Hi Bruce. I am also looking forward to the rest of fall and winter. Don’t want to leave the impression I am wishing life away!!!! Jane


      jane tims

      October 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

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