The Dye Plants of Spring

Yarn dyed with copper solution, sage, wild carrot, ground lichen, walnut hulls and rabbitbrush dries on the fence in Ft. Defiance.

Window Rock, AZ Today, Rose and Henry Lee Dedman helped us to dye some wool in the Navajo way, over an open fire.  We collected ground lichen, sage and rabbitbrush on the Defiance Plateau and used walnut hulls and wild carrot that we had harvested last year and stored.  One of the students brought a copper penny solution that dyes wool in the color of a light green copper patina.   The most challenging plant to collect is the ground lichen, which grows in small clumps on the higher elevations of the reservation.  Once you learn to recognize the plant, finding more is a thrilling hunt.  It produces a beautiful burnt orange color that is quite beautiful and colorfast.  We carefully took only as much as we needed, leaving more to propagate for the future.

The day turned out to be too windy for a post dye session barbeque, so we invited Henry and Rose to have lunch with us back at the Quality Inn in Window Rock.  Since this is the first Thursday of the month, the menu featured the popular mutton buffet.  Rose said that it was delicious!

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker

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1 Comment

  1. Pat Thalhauser on June 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I was using my old turquoise spatterware teapot today, which usually makes me think of my Nana and this time I also thought of Rose’s beautiful old dyepots. If you see her, Mary, tell her I was thinking of the fun we had dyeing yarn that day. The whole week was great. I’ll think of Rose and Henry every time I use that teapot now.