a hand holding three yellow skeins of yarn in front of dyer's chamomile flowers

How To Dye With Dyer’s Chamomile (Solar Dyeing)

In this blogpost I will show you one way of how to dye with dyer’s chamomile. For this experiment, I opted for the solar dyeing method. Instead of the regular dyeing process where you heat the dyestuff in a pot of water, solar dyeing utilizes the power of the sun to slowly and gently dye fiber. As you can imagine, this method is best used in the warmer months of the year when the days are long and the sunrays are strong.

glass jar filled with yarn and flower heads, ready for solar dyeing

If you have never done any solar dyeing before, I recommend that you have a look at this blogpost first. It contains a step-by-step tutorial and everything you need to know to give solar dyeing a try.

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Dyer’s Chamomile

cota tinctoria flowers in full bloom

Dyer’s chamomile is also known as cota tinctoria, golden marguerite, yellow chamomile, oxeye chamomile, Boston daisy or Paris daisy. It is a perennial and belongs to the sunflower family. Dyer’s chamomile consists of yellow flower heads and feathery, light green foliage. It blooms in summer and grows to about 60 cm (24 inches) high.

a hand holding a bunch of dyer's chamomile flower heads

Solar Dyeing With Dyer’s Chamomile: List of Materials

glass jarwith lid, transparent, size at least 1 L. I use these Weck jars but any large glass jar will do.
dyestuffdyer’s chamomile flower heads
If you want to know more about mordants in general and how to use them, I recommend this blogpost.
fiberI use up to 100 g of yarn in a 1 L glass jar. The yarn doesn’t have to be pre-mordanted or soaked. You can simply use the dry yarn.
waterregular tap water
tablespoonto measure the alum
measuring cupto measure the water
kitchen scaleTo measure the alum and dyestuff. This is the one I use.
glovesI use these nitrile-vinyl gloves.
dish soap, wool detergentTo wash the yarn after the dyeing is complete. You can use whatever you have on hand. This is the wool detergent I use and can recommend. It is gentle and doesn’t have any smell.
time & sunlight

Solar Dyeing Process

dyer's chamomile flower heads in a glass jar

I used equal amounts of yarn and flower heads. The setup was exactly the same that I described in my general solar dyeing blogpost. I let the jar sit in a full sun location for one week. Then I took the skeins out of the jar, washed them and hung them to dry.

Color Results

As you can see in the pictures, dyer’s chamomile turned the yarn into a vibrant, warm yellow color. It is similar to goldenrod, but the hue is a bit warmer.

three skeins of yarn and a dyer's chamomile flower on a floral backdrop

What I really like about solar dyeing is the fact that the skeins have some color variation throughout. The parts that were directly in contact with the flowers have a slightly deeper color.
Overall, I am very happy with how the experiment turned and will definitely use dyer’s chamomile again in the future.

a hand holding a dyer's chamomile flower head

According to the literature, you cannot only use the flower heads but also the stems and foliage for natural dyeing. Definitely something I will have to try out soon.

Have you used dyer’s chamomile for natural dyeing purposes before? What are your experiences? Come share in the comments!

Pin It For Later: How To Dye With Dyer’s Chamomile

how to dye with dyer's chamomile pinterest graphic

Further Reading on Dyer’s Chamomile:


Dean, Jenny, et al. Wild Colour: How to Make & Use Natural Dyes. Mitchell Beazley, 2018

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