Creativity · dye · Fun · Spinning · Yarn

What’s in my Dye Pot: Oxalis

A very generous friend has been letting me spend some time at her apple farm in Occidental recently. I’ve made the trek up north twice on my own over the past couple of weeks and have stayed over for a night or two both trips. The time that I’ve been spending there has been very special and mentally rejuvenating. It’s amazing how healing nature can be.


Helping out and getting dirty around the farm is really enjoyable for me. It’s meditative in a way and reminds me of being a kid again helping my granddad or my mom with their backyard gardens. The big project for the farm right now is weeding. So, lots of playing in the dirt. It’s prime weeding season, because the soil is nice and soft, which makes it easier to dig up or pull the roots out.


The weather at the farm was incredibly beautiful during both my visits and the spring flowers and wildflowers were out and showing off. A critter or two came out to bask in the sun, too.


Danny and I have visited the farm several times over the past year, and during our very first visit we had the chance to help plant some of the apple, citrus, and stone fruit trees on the property. It’s been very rewarding for me to see how much the trees have grown in the past year. Here’s one tree that we planted, surrounded by an audience of lovely ground irises. It’s still itty bitty, but it’s coming right along.


Last week, while my friend, Rachel, was showing me some of the problem areas of the farm that needed weeding, she pointed out one of the most invasive weeds: Oxalis.

I remembered dyeing with Oxalis (also called Sourgrass or Common Yellow Woodsorrel) during the shibori workshop I attended a few months ago in January. I got a lovely result for the cotton/cashmere scarf that I dyed, and I wear it all the time.

Since I was going to be pulling so much Oxalis at the farm, I thought that I could collect a bundle to experiment with at home. I asked Rachel what she thought of the idea, and she readily agreed saying, “I’m glad to know that there’s at least something GOOD that can come from this annoying, awful plant.”

So, this past weekend, I got my dye pot set up and a-boiling with an Oxalis brew.


I chose to dye one of my small skeins of handspun yarn and a thrifted cotton blouse. Both were white/off white to begin with. For fun, I did a bit of shibori with knots and rubber bands for the blouse before mordanting and adding it to the dye pot.


I left the blouse and skein in the dye pot for about three hours, rinsed it, dried it, and here we are…


I enjoy the subtle color variation in conjunction with the front design I got with the cotton blouse. It’s definitely more interesting than just straight dyeing it.


And I’m really excited about the vivid fluorescent yellow that I was able to get with my handspun skein! Check this out.


Bam! Beautiful! Not bad for a bundle full of useless weeds, huh?

I stored the remaining Oxalis dye in some glass jars, and I’m planning on dyeing more of my handspun yarn, enough to make a sizeable project!


I’ve got several spring fiber arts workshops coming up that I am signed up to take, which I am really looking forward to. My first is an indigo dyeing class with Ashley Eva Brock this Saturday in Bolinas. I learned a tiny bit about indigo at the January shibori workshop that I mentioned earlier, but I’m just itching to learn more techniques.

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