Today’s Color: Weld Yellow

I was so shocked when I first dyed with Today’s color: weld yellow.  I had no idea that this eye-dazzling yellow could come from a weedy looking, grassy smelling plant.  All the other yellow dyes I had tried: osage, fustic, pomegranate and myrobalan had been so much more discreet in their yellowness.  Their shades were golden, buff, bronze, buttery and very beautiful, melding perfectly into my palette between the rich earthy reds and gentle teals. Weld, on the other hand, was the extrovert.  The color that had the lampshade on its head.  The color that was standing on the street corner shouting into its cell phone.

My surprise  turned to delight once I dipped the bold yellow skein into indigo and got a beautiful lime green.  Two dips produced a chartreuse, and multiple dips created a rich emerald.  Way too many dips created a blue that had the suggestion of the green underneath it.  It was difficult to distinguish on its own, but next to a navy blue yarn, you could see the green peeking through. Magical.

The next color that weld was responsible for was a brilliant tangerine orange when it was combined with a touch of madder.  The color was citrus fresh; on silk, it simply glowed. From there I dyed a very sophisticated mossy green with Logwood Grey.  More additions of Logwood Grey moved the hue to a warm grey that resembled wet tarmac, a moody and urban color.

For all of its bright and modern pizazz, weld is an ancient color and was used throughout Europe for centuries as the yellow dye that along with woad and madder, anchored the European textile palette.  It is the most lightfast of the yellow colorants and yields its amazing yellow hue with an alum mordant.

For color ideas on how to use Today’s Color: weld yellow, check out our Color Recipes page.  In the accompanying photo, the weld color is the bright yellow that is screaming at you (right next to the more demure Fustic), but look at what a great orange you get with it!