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rhubarb pie – no, dye

April 11, 2020

we all know what rhubarb looks like

but the root is rather surprising

a large, very solid lump

when cut it is beautiful

with strong colour and almost rings like in tree trunks

 April’s dye challenge uses it on wool, silk and cotton

gives the a very strong colour – but not orange as one might expect

using an alum mordant on the handspun wool and silk

and tannin and alum on the cotton

the silk and cotton have a very greenish tone

in the neighborhood…

the municipal sign people have been very creative

much better than cutting down the tree

and now I’m off to dig in the veggie garden

24 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2020 8:24 pm

    I don’t use a mordant with rhubarb root on wool at all and get a really nice warm yellow. The sweater I knit still smells faintly of the sweet dyebath years later. I dig my plants in the fall every 3 years or so and replant the best crowns in lots of compost and topdress the plants with manure every spring. The roots for dye get chopped up before they dry or they become very hard! Currently my rhubarb plants are about 45 years old and just about ready to harvest the first stems of the season. Looking forward to enjoying the sauce on my breakfast!


    • April 18, 2020 10:10 am

      Hi Louisa – in Jan. I mordanted enough wool, silk and cotton to dye my monthly challenge for a few months. I always mordant with alum even for those materials that it is not necessary, personally think it gives a better colour. My rhubarb plants are approx. 25 years old and I’ve had one small harvest, the new small shoots are so-o much more tasty before they really start to grow – wonderful in yogurt.


      • April 18, 2020 11:57 am

        Hey, Jean! Mordants can shift the colour in different directions and with some dyes I like the unmordanted colour better! I’m planning to pick some of my rhubarb today. Looking forward to having my first taste of the season!


      • April 18, 2020 12:06 pm

        Louisa – rhubarb on the porridge this morning, just came in from watering. I love this weather but it is going to be a long, hot summer if we don’t get some rain.


  2. Going Batty in Wales permalink
    April 12, 2020 2:51 am

    Love that sign! I only planted my rhubarb 3 years ago – it is too young to have spread fa and too precious to be dug up for dye. I love the colour though.


    • April 12, 2020 8:33 am

      Sue – I freeze the rhubarb to use in the winter – great on porridge and in yogurt but also give some away in the summer. Only harvest a root once in 5-6 years, the colour is very strong and not my favorite.


      • Going Batty in Wales permalink
        April 13, 2020 3:30 am

        I am looking forward to having enough to freeze because I love it too. I am not sure when / if I will ever get around to dyeing but I love the idea.


      • April 13, 2020 10:38 am

        Sue -just eat it and enjoy.


      • Going Batty in Wales permalink
        April 14, 2020 2:38 am

        I will.


      • April 14, 2020 8:00 am

        Sue – 🙂


  3. April 12, 2020 12:58 am

    I love that pruning.


  4. April 11, 2020 3:36 pm

    I love that greenish gold colour, it reminds me of the colour of new oak leaves in the spring. Northern hemisphere, that is. No oak trees here, no new spring leaves…


    • April 11, 2020 5:25 pm

      Kate – not my favorite side of the colour wheel. I live in the municipality of Oak Bay, lots of oak trees, they are just starting to leaf out.


      • April 11, 2020 5:35 pm

        Ahhh…. gentle envy 🙂 I think the memory of a spring in the south of England is one of the few things that makes me nostalgic for my native land.


      • April 12, 2020 8:38 am

        Kate – Spring in Victoria means cherry blossoms everywhere, magnolias and bluebells. The tourist industry used to advertise Victoria as the city of gardens.


      • April 12, 2020 1:31 pm



      • April 12, 2020 2:02 pm

        Kate – Happy Easter 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. April 11, 2020 1:03 pm

    Beautiful roots! My rhubarb plant is very feeble and insipid, maybe it needs a new location…or maybe it is telling me that it wants to be used a dye?
    I love the recessed street sign!


    • April 11, 2020 2:44 pm

      Kjerstin – rhubarb likes lots of compost, sun and water. Mine are over 20 years old, they spread out and form new clumps. I can give you one if you want, let me know I’ll leave it at the front yard.


    • April 12, 2020 12:58 am

      On Gardener’s question time they said that you should water rhubarb as much as possible, even in a wet climate.


      • April 12, 2020 8:34 am

        Dawn – it likes a top dressing of compost also.

        Liked by 1 person

      • April 13, 2020 1:31 am

        oh, yes, of course. I was surprised that they told someone living in Ireland that they should water their rhubarb even when it’s rained, because that’s where most people fail. I


      • April 13, 2020 10:37 am

        Dawn – yes, I live on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, about as far west as you can go in Canada without falling into the Pacific Ocean, frequently known as the “Wet Coast!

        Liked by 1 person

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