Natural Dyeing Report

When I was about to buy my first batch of wool for feltmaking sometimes in March I went for the white one for two reasons: it was cheaper and I couldn’t decide which one of the coloured ones to buy, all the colour are very nice – but which one will I really need? And then I thought I could learn how to dye the wool anyway.

Then I went to our local bookshop and found this book. The pictures in the book are beautiful and I think that’s the reason why I have decided to use natural dyes. I must admit now that the book seems to be very basic and sometimes wonder if the pics were not “touched” a little bit when I compare the colours of dyes with other books on natural dyeing. But they are very inspiring and even if the dyeing results are different I like all the colours I have achived with natural dyes so far. They look especially good when next to each other.

I was wondering what colour would I achieve if I dye just the fibre in the red cabbage dye bath, not the finished scarf as I did before. So I chopped the rest of the red cabbage I had, almost five times more than the weight of the fibre and cooked it. The colour looked promising again…

but washed out almost completely when the fibre was rinsed after the dyeing. It stayed on the viscose better (1st picture) than on the wool (2nd picture). Richer colour was obtained after I put fibres in a vinegar, washing soda and iron mordant. Vinegar made it more purple, washing soda didn’t do much to the colour this time and iron made it a bit bluish.

Here are the fibres still wet after all dyeing and mordating. First I mordanted all of them with alum and let rest in the fridge for almost a week.

On the left is red cabbage and then: first after iron dip, second viscose and washing soda dip, third wool and washing soda dip, fourth wool and the vinegar.

On the right side fibre dyed with gorse and then: first with iron dip, second with washing soda ( I really like this rich yellow), at the bottom on the left just gorse, on the right vinegar dip (made it greenish a bit).

Here they are in all their beauty dried and carded. After all that soaking in the water (first to wet them, second to mordant them, third to dye them and fourth to dip them in aftermordants…) plus my not very carefull handling they were a bit felted. So I had to learn how to card the wool. There are some great videos on YouTube, if you don’t know how to. I didn’t. The wool is now preety and soft again, my only objection is that it is more in a form of bats than sliver which I prefer to use for cobweb felt.

This is carded merino and viscose dyed with gorse. Lovely yellows.

I also tried dandelions (the picture bellow) and daffodils as dyes. They give very similar colours.

It is interesting to see how aftermordants change the colour. Here is Falkland wool dyed with dandelion and daffodils – the top (actual colour is much nicer than here on the pic) and then dipped in washing soda – the bottom part.

And here is my first sampler:




3 thoughts on “Natural Dyeing Report

  1. I was amazed when I saw the color card on Flickr. You have been working hard. I’m amazed by your systematic efficiency. Well done. Beautiful work too!

  2. Wonderful! It is amazing the variations with the different dyes and mordants.

    When I worked as a teacher, we always did a project with natural dyes. The children would collect acorns, sumac berries and we would bring in bluberries. We used alum as a mordant and the colors were so lovely…most would turn to some form of brown when washed out. Then, the students would weave the fibres together.

    You have reminded me of something I have not done in quite a while:) I may look into fibre work again in more detail in the next stage of my creative life…there is something so “feminine” and connected to this work.

    Love your blog!!!

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