Saint Mary’s herb and fermentation

For all the witches viewing this blog I will present today a spell that closes summer in wool. All you will need is free afternoon, basket of flowers, yarn, alum, water, fire and time. And joy of charming 😉


The essence of the mixture will be widespread and beautiful Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), growing usually where you would not put your picnic blanket – by ditches, roads, or on old overgrown parking lots.

I found on the internet and in my books various tips and rules about dyeing with goldenrod. Later however, when I analyzed the way I followed, it turned out I made so many errors I can say the recipe is mine. Strangely enough, it worked! 🙂

Starting from the beginning: I collected the flowers on 22nd of August  when they were already in full bloom (first so-called error and there will be more!). I cut them approximately 30 cm from the top so in the dyeing pot there were flowers, stalks and some leaves altogether.

I firmly shook everything before pouring onto it water to save random bugs and bees and cut the plants into smaller pieces with pruning shears. This action is not aimed at anything other than efficient packing it in a pot. Then I boiled my rainwater, poured it onto my plants until it covered them entirely, covered the pot with a lid and left everything for the “right time to come”. Every day I looked under the lid and mixed it to aerate it. I could see then how nicely it all “worked”. On the second day of fermentation I could see a froth and multiple bubbles.

day zero
2 days later

Prepared in this manner mixture waited for it’s big day till 30th of August, which was exactly 8 days later. At that time I could really easily smell the scent of fermenting flowers around the pot, so it is a great idea to keep it outdoors 🙂

osiem dni później

Couple of days before the actual dyeing I also prepared the yarn I wanted to cast my colour spell on. I wound it into three 50 g skeins and pre mordanted it with alum (15 % of wool weight). Once cool, I wrapped still wet skeins in linen cloth and left it to ferment for 3 days.

small alum “fermentator” set

After this time, time came for the great final. And breaking the rules continued as at any stage of the dyeing I had never cooked the plant as many people recommend. Instead, the first thing I did after removing the lid was .. the removal of the plant and throwing it on the compost heap 🙂

goldenrod taken out of the pot
essence of sun 🙂

I put my wool skeins (150 g in total) to cold sun essence and put it on live fire.


I cooked everything at temperature slighlty below 100 Celsius degrees and left everything in the pot overnight. When I took the wool out of the water the next day I was simply delighted! What a wonderful plant it is, that gives its colour so lovingly!


This is how the colour looks like when compared to greys:


I regret now I dyed only 150 grams back then. This casting spell is definately worth repeating!

You may also like:


  1. Cześć!
    Piękny kolor! Skąd pomysł na fermentację?
    Czy w przypadku wygotowania świeże/suszonej rośliny tak po prostu, w wodzie z ałunem, nie uzyskamy podobnego wyniku?
    Jestem bardzo ciekawa!

    1. To fuzja tego co znalazłam w książce Tuszyńskiej (wzmiankowała o fermentowaniu wełny z ałunem) i na blogu farbiarskim gdzie fermentowany był sam wywar nawłociowy. Z tego połączenia powstało właśnie to, co tutaj jest 🙂
      Nie próbowałam jeszcze barwić nawłocią na zasadzie “wrzucę wszystko do gara” więc nie wiem jakby mi wyszło.. ale jeśli pogooglujesz na pewno znajdziesz nawłociowe (nie fermentowane) osiągnięcia innych osób. Trudno o porównanie, bo dobrze by było, gdyby 2 metody były przeprowadzone “tą samą ręką”, ale jakaś próba porównawcza może z tego wyjść 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *