One of the nature beauties I have been admiring this autum are berries.

Some of them are a source of a natural dye, especially blackberries and elder. Although the color fades with time faster than with other dyes I thought it would be interesting to dye wool with them anyway. I know that dyers have tried hard to develop dyes which would be as wash and lightfast as possible, but I personally don’t mind if color changes over the time, I feel it adds an interesting element to a handmade piece.

I picked about a pound of elderberries while on our walk near Loch Ness and dyed alum mordanted merino, adding some kitchen salt to push the color more towards blue-lavender (=read in books:).


This is all merino dyed with elderberries with different aftermordants used, from the top: just elderberries, then afterdip with iron, washing soda and vinegar.

more detailed pictures

on the left iron aftermordant, on the right just alum and berries, the color here is more redish, in real it is a combination of lavender, pink and grey

on the left vinegar aftermordant, on the right washing soda, it reminds me of my first natural dyeing experiment, with red cabbage when purple looking ‘plant’ dyed wool grey and after I used alkaline washing soda the scarf turned green



One thought on “Elderberries

  1. Just seen this old post. Lovely soft colours. I tried the salt thing with privet berries but did not achieve a blue tone which texts suggest would happen. Will try with elderberries in the autumn. I agree with what you say about fading. Even modern dyed curtains fade from all that sunlight!

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