As a plant, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), has spindly foliage and a wonderful architectural shape. Its flowers are round yellow buttons perched atop stiff stems in charming clusters. In many areas it’s considered a weed – albeit a cheerful and striking one. We forage it where it is unwanted or in over-abundance and hang it in clusters to air dry in our barn. It has a distinct camphor like smell when handled and also when simmered in the dye pot. It dyes a lovely soft cool lemony yellow.
Key Dye Colours: Cool yellow, bronze, earthy green
Dye Process: Colour is extracted by bringing to a gentle simmer until the water turns a translucent yellowish colour.
Weight of Fibre (WOF): Use at 50% for a medium shade. For a darker colour, use more; for a lighter colour, use less. A bag will dye ~200g of fibre. A typical wool skein is 100g.
Key Modifiers: Iron will shift the colour to a bronze or earthy green. An alkaline PH shift produces an orange-ochre colour. Tansy yellow can be overdyed with indigo to create beautiful greens.
Washfastness: Very Good.
Lightfastness: Very Good.
Overall Colourfastness: Very Good.
Natural colour grown with care
This natural plant dye was grown with care on our small farm in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. All of our dye plant material is dried on site immediately after harvest to preserve quality and maximum vibrancy of colour.
Natural dyes can only be used on natural fibres (cotton, linen, wool, bamboo, hemp, silk). For best results, natural fibres should be pre-prepared using a mordant or tannin before dyeing. Natural dyes and mordants are available in our online store.
Natural dyes create unique living colours that will evolve and wear over time as they are washed, worn, and loved creating colours and garments that are alive, telling the story of their use. While they are not as consistently repeatable or as durable as many synthetic dyes, they are far more environmentally friendly and, in our opinion, absolutely unmatched in magic and beauty. If you are new to natural dyes, we have a free guide to getting started with natural dyes.
Our 2020 Tansy dye is foraged from public spaces around our farm where it grows wild.