Lately, I've been thinking a lot about dyeing yarn. Specifically, I've been thinking and reading about dyeing wool with natural dyes. As it turns out, there are all sorts of plants growing in my area -- most of them unwanted weeds -- that produce vibrant dyes.
The problem is that I'm not sure how to collect them. Collecting plant material -- even unwanted weedy plant material -- is strictly forbidden in all East Bay Regional Parks. Oakland City parks are a bit more lenient, as far as I can tell. But I'm not sure I want to have the conversation with the nice ranger or police officer, explaining why I have a couple of grocery bags full of eucalyptus leaves.
So, I'm asking blog readers if they can suggest any places where I might be able to collect large quantities of the following. (Most plant-based dyes need to be at least double the weight of the wool that's being dyed.)
- black walnut hulls (the outer green husks)
- blackberry leaves
- eucalyptus (the red iron-bark variety)
- pomegranate (I want the skins, but I won't say no to entire fruits!)
- prickly pear cactus fruits
I'm envisioning overgrown areas, near industrial parks. Places that nobody really tends, but where I won't feel like I'm going to get mugged. Do you know of such a place? I've been considering the Albany Bulb, because it's kind of lawless. I've also been thinking about the various warehouse districts, but most of them are in pretty skanky neighborhoods.
If you're about to weed out your back garden, and you're over-run with any of these, do let me know. I'd be happy to help you weed, and would put your unwanted plants to good use.
While I'm asking, I may as well check to see if there are any blog readers in any of there areas where woad is a problem. This European dye plant is listed as a Class A noxious weed (whatever that means) in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, California and Oregon. Anyone want to mail me some? I'll pay for the shipping, and send you something fun in return?
Likewise, if you happen to have access to pounds of onion skins, I'd love to take them off of your hands.
Any thoughts or suggestions, blog friends?