Steamed ferns

One of my goals this week was to dye with bracken or fern leaves.

So I took a short walk in the woods by the cabin. There is so much to see in the under growth but I rushed by the jack in the pulpits to reach my goal. It would be easy to get distracted by the cool, calm greens that surround me but I stay on task.

My  favorite dye book –  Wild Color by Jenny Dean  Jenny Dean’s Wild Colour  – says that young fronds will yield yellow shades.  The ferns are already  too large but I decide to pick them any ways.

I pick 3 pounds of the leaves. I started by cutting up the stems but then realized

it would be faster to just unzip the leaf from the stem. I just held the stem in one hand and pressed my fingers on either side and quickly ran it through my fingers –unzipping the leaves.I put half the leaves in to the dye pot and then added enough water to cover. Then set the pot over the fire pit. It simmered for a long time and didn’t release much color. The leaves looked like creamed spinach at this point and smelled good enough to eat. After about 6 hours I lifted some of the leaves and placed my yarn under neath them and pushed the grate to the side so it wasn’t directly over the heat. After an hour I checked it and took out all the leaves and added the second half of the leaves to the hot water hoping to get darker hues. I covered it and let it sit all afternoon.

The color was light when I checked again so I left it on the grate over the fire pit overnight. The fire was almost out. In the morning I pulled it out and the yarn was cold.We have had nice sunny weather in Wisconsin but the nights cool off and in the morning it was only 40*.  I hung the yarn over the railing and  let it dry without rinsing.

Here is the yarn before its rinse.

Now we are home again and I have washed and rinsed the yarn.The color starts out a light yellowish green and gets a little darker and becomes  a light khaki can see where the yarn has come into contact with the leaves as the color fades in and out. I like to dye with out straining the material out of the dye pot I love the kettled look of the yarn. At first glance the dye job on the yarn seems dull but its light soft shade grows on me. And I am already thinking of stranded work I can knit with it.

Now wouldn’t it be lovely to get the same green as these leaves with the spots of dappled sunshine on them?


  1. baamekniits said,

    May 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I like the variegation that you got with that dye pot 🙂

  2. whatzitknitz said,

    May 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Thanks– it is a light shade but very prettying. I think I will pair it with a darker yarn and make selbubotter mitts with it.

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