Coast Colours – Horsetail

Horsetail (Equisetum sp.) is a living fossil.  Those of us who find it as an uninvited guest in our gardens can be thankful it doesn’t grow 30 metres high like some of its ancestors in the Paleozoic forests.  It’s also called scouring rush as the stems are coated with abrasive silicates and the plants were used to scour cooking pots and mugs.

1dyehorsetail

Combining the tasks of weeding and gathering for the dye pot, I picked a large basket of horsetail (sadly it hardly made a dent in my garden!).  I put it in my pot, poured boiling water over it and let it sit overnight.  The next day I cooked it for 5-6 hours and then let it sit overnight.

2dyehorsetail

The next day I added my fibre and fabric and held the temperature below simmer for several hours.  I let everything soak overnight and the next day.  Top left is a wool roving and beneath it some cotton.  On the right is silk (which is actually more golden than shown in the photo).

3dyehorsetail

In the exhaust bath I dyed some wool from Olivia who lives in Roberts Creek.

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Heather Apple

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