Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a flowering plant most commonly cultivated for it's cooking oil, the petals of which can be used to create vibrant shades of pink, coral and yellow.
A fascinating and unusual dyestuff that has been used in Japan since the 1st century, safflower is dyed in a very different way than other natural dyes. It will yield yellow and pink shades on cotton or linen, and pink, coral and yellow shades on silk. Wool will not dye. Safflower does not require the use of a mordant, and is dyed through a series of cold water soakings and "turning" the dye bath by shifting the pH first to slightly basic, then slightly acidic.
Find a step by step tutorial on dyeing with safflower here.
Since it is so lightweight, it needs to be dyed at a fairly high ratio of petals to fibre, usually 100-200% wof for medium depth of shade.
As safflower is dyed with cold water, it can be a good option for simple shibori techniques, such as the heart and circle pattern in the fifth photo.
Looking for things to dye? Visit the Blanks for Dyeing section if our shop to find white and unbleached fabric, yarn, and small accessories, all ready to dye!