Dyeing with Fern

I cannot believe that it has been only a couple of weeks ago that we were having our first freezes. When I look outside my window now, I see white covered mountain tops while a cold wind blows through our little hamlet.

Right before this first frost late Fall, I got up one day and walked into the forest to gather some fern for dyeing. The weather was still warm enough to walk outside wearing my beloved hand knitted sweaters to keep me warm and cosy. There is this seclusive space in the forest of ancient trees where mountain water from high up forms a little bassin. I knew I had to go there to gather fern for my dye experiments.

The outcome of my dyeing was positively succesful and I thought I’d share the process with you now, should you like to dye with this plant too. The best time of year to pick fronds is from spring to fall. You can use them both fresh or dry.
That day I gathered quiet some fronds, using only fresh ones for this particular dye pot. The rest I hung up to dry for later dye experiments.

First I cut up the fronds into smaller pieces to fit into my dye pot and simmered them for about 30 minutes to an hour. I strained off the dye liquid, added the linen fabric and let it simmer until the dye bath gave the linen a shade of golden yellow. Because I wanted this colour more muted I dipped the fabric in an iron after bath. The taupe colour turned out beautifully and was exactly what I was hoping for! When I sew this design into a project bag I added an indigo dyed border and cotton cord to compliment the beautiful colour this primitive plant gave.

Happy dyeing dear friends!

x Claire