Rhubarb Root again

At last I’ve managed to find time to try out the colour modifiers on the rhubarb root extract dye that I wrote about earlier. The samples are on unmordanted wool.

The photo shows from top to bottom: No modifier, acidic modifier (clear vinegar), alkaline modifier (washing soda), copper modifier & iron modifier. (Note: I always put the modified samples in alphabetical order – acid, alkali, copper, iron). The last sample is from a different dyebath, made by adding an acid (this time citric acid granules, but clear vinegar would have been equally good) to the dyebath before dyeing. I added enough to turn the dyebath yellow, rather than rust, in colour. However, take care not to add too much or the colour may be too pale, so add it gradually.The unmordanted sample was then added & simmered for about 20 minutes. This latter method is a useful way of getting a clear yellow from rhubarb root, in either extract or plant form, without having to use an acidic modifer afterwards. If you dye several skeins in the acidified dyebath, they can be modified as usual, although little change occurs from an acidic modifier.

I was delighted with these results, as rhubarb root is such a useful, versatile dye, especially as it can be used without a mordant. It was good to know that the modifiers are effective when used with the dye in extract form.

6 replies
  1. cedar
    cedar says:

    Jenny, I have dyed with unmordanted silk and wool, and with my alkaline well water I got a pale almost green/beige…and is this yarn then considered mordanted and can be overdyed without using additional mordant? and when you say modified do you mean you put in unmordanted fibre and then added to the fibre pot difference ph changes and iron and copper into the dye pot or as an after dip? thanks

  2. cedar
    cedar says:

    Ah it was rhubarb leaves I used not roots, which probably accounts for the color, and still wonder about considered that mordanted yarn…although i liked the color just from the leaves, I did want to dye over it without a mordant….

  3. Woolladyfelter
    Woolladyfelter says:

    Is there a specific rhubarb root – plant? Or is it the one that people use for pies?? Its just beautiful color. I love your publications and I have many of them. I love that you now have a blog – thanks!

  4. Dot
    Dot says:

    I am delighted to have found your blog through a recommendation on Carol Leonard’s blog.

    I first learnt about natural dyes from your book “Natural Dyes”, I bought it when first published and loved the magic of dyeing revealed there, but it took many years before I actually tried dyeing, I got around to it eventually because I discovered wool spinning and Guilds, etc.

    I have a couple of rhubarb plants that I have grown from seed, however, they are only a couple of years old so not much root yet. I wonder how much rhubarb root I would need to use for dyeing?

  5. Dot
    Dot says:

    Sorry I got the book title wrong, it was your 1994 book “The Craft of Natural Dyeing”, must have owned it 10 years before I tried dyeing, I have other books but yours, which I came across by chance when browsing in a book shop, was the one that opened my eyes to something I’d never heard of before.

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