I’m not sure how widespread Soursobs (Oxalis pes-caprae) is in your part of the world, but around here there are plenty of the little beggers popping up in gardens and along roadsides. They are a weed even if they do have a pretty flowers and as they spread by tiny bulbs are pretty darn hard to eradicate.
Soursob has been mentioned at the Cohuna Spinners and Weavers days on several occasions as a brilliant plant to dye with. The flowers are used and while I can say they smell something awful when they are cooking and the cooked left over flowers look like a pile of ” S*&^” (as James said) the dye you get is amazing.
In the end I used four mordants. Alum, Copper Sulphate, Iron Sulphate and laundry powder that I use to wash my clothes. The ladies did say you could use “Drive” brand laundry powder but at $10 for a Kilo it was way more than I wanted to pay so decided to play with the bulk stuff I buy.
As you can see the results are amazing.
From left to right – Pure 8 ply wool mordanted with Alum, Copper Sulphate, Iron Sulphate and laundry detergent. All the wool was presoaked in vinegar to give it the acidity it needed to take up the dye. Wool was gently simmered in the dye bath for 15 mins and allowed to cool slightly before rinsing clean.
I might, just might, have to make sure I have a small patch of them growing in my garden somewhere – for dyeing puposes only you understand…vbg. Some where out of the way though – I wouldn’t like others to think that I’m am totally nuts for cultivating weeds after all.