I pulled the first of our rhubarb at the weekend – and delicious it was too, made into a crumble. It’s been a couple of years of waiting, since we moved house, bringing with us part of the crown from the old place, and then planting two new plants.. then changing our mind about where they were and moving them – we have left them alone to settle in.
And in a moment of home grown food meets natural dyeing, we used the leaves to dye a skein of wool.
One of the great things about dyeing with rhubarb leaves, is there is no need to pre mordant the wool first. The oxalic acid (which is what makes the rhubarb taste sharp and the leaves poisonous to eat), prepares the wool fibres perfectly to take up the dye.
Once again, I used Jenny Dean’s book, Wild colours (which is being re-released!) as a guide – but rather than stick to her usual formula of same weight of dyestuff to yarn, I used 6 rhubarb leaves to the one skein. The leaves were cooked up – the liquid strained and leaves discarded, then the skein dropped in and simmered gently, and left to sit overnight.
I’m really pleased with the results – a lovely warm yellow.