It’s now mid-October, I have a bit of amaranth grown in my garden. A good harvest as they say. I grew the amaranth in the allotment in Italy. And they grew like weeds. Nothing like I have seen before. I have decided to make some fabric dye out of them. I have found out that it is a dye that needs solar dyeing instead of the usual heat and dip technique. This is undertaken in order to obtain good vibrant colours. Otherwise, the colours obtain will just be beige to greys. It takes time therefore solar dyeing is a slow method of extract dye out of amaranth. A bit like trying to extract dye out of Japanese indigo.
I am not sure if the dye colour obtains from amaranth will last as it is a vegetable dye. It is something I will try to update in the future. at the present, with the little information out there it is likely not fugitive but it has got lovely colours if one can extract the colours.
I like dyeing with this all-purpose plant in which is high in nutrients, edible and is also dyeable. It’s also very easy to grow as well in the garden. They are also drought hardly so easily grown in warm climates or in the summer here in the UK. It can grow very well in the tropics and the Mediterranean climate.
Amaranth is also available to buy from Asian grocers so do ask and shop around. If you can’t/ don’t grow amaranth.
Using amaranth as a fabric dye
Below the picture is a shibori patterning I made while dyeing with amaranth and experiments with different types of fibres. The fibres I have used are silk, wool (protein) and cotton (cellulose).
It is possible to try with mordants like alum and iron in which can make the colours brighter and darker.
For the fibres above I did pre mordant them in alum before putting them in the dye pot.
I did try the solar method but it didn’t work out too well as there wasn’t much sunlight nowadays. It’s October weather here in London the days are getting shorter. This is because the weather is now heading into daylight hours getting shorter. Perhaps that might be the reason but there are so many factors in natural dyeing. It can vary time to time as well even with the technique dep
Then I decide to make some more dye out of the last amaranth grains. As a result, the dye did get into the fabric the second time around. The trick is that if the dye doesn’t work first time round try it another time.
So in one plant, there are uses from cooking the leaves in stir fry, Amaranth stir fry using the grains in cereals and using the whole plant in the dye pot. I just chop the leaves up or boil the grains in a pot of water. Dye pot ready. Don’t use grains that are too old. As the colour one will only get us just brown. Tips on how to grow and harvest amaranth are here Growing and harvesting amaranth