My daughter was flipping through Colonial Days last week. I told her to pick out a craft and she mentioned making a natural wool dye. I was all over it. I've wanted to try dyeing again for a while now, but couldn't justify the expense for my own recreation... but as an educational opportunity for my children? That's a whole different (more generous) category in the budget.
We ordered some undyed merino (lace weight) and picked up some alum and cream of tartar at Target. We decided to create a goldenrod dye because it's supposed to be easy and the roadsides are still adorned with the feathery bright yellow flowers. And I love doing anything so quintessentially seasonal.
Can you imagine us all happily tromping through a sunlit field to gather flowers? Picture this instead, it's just after Mass and I'm wearing my pearls, strappy heels, and a knee length dress which became decidedly not knee length when I leaned over to gather the goldenrod. Replace the sunlit field with a bare spot behind a local bar complete with broken beer bottles and ant piles - also a cold front had blown in whilst we were in church and it was damp and chilly.
I would provide more details for the dyeing process, but it wasn't exact and there are plenty of ideas out there on the internet. I personally remember green spiders crawling all over my kitchen counters, shrieks and laughter over the wasps and caterpillars we brought home with us, hauling huge pots of boiling water in and out of the kitchen, and a smell filling the house which can only be described as "funky".
But we got a golden skein of yarn for all of our efforts and it goes without saying that we will definitely do this again.
Ooh, I should mention that Martha does this in Lissa's Martha series using a rather repulsive substance as mordant and I was surprised and also not surprised that there are still a lot of people out there who take this route - but you know, for some additional reading on natural dyes.