Natural dyeing – Rhubarb

Rhubarb dyed and mordanted wool, along with untreated wool

Rhubarb dyed and mordanted wool, along with untreated wool

Rhubarb leaf mordant

Along with chemical mordants like aluminum, copper, and iron, Jenny Dean also notes the use of staghorn sumac leaves, and oak galls as possible sources of natural mordants in Wild Colour: The complete guide to making and using natural dyes. These are rich in tannin she notes, which helps colour adhere and increases light and wash-fastness on vegetable fibres.

However, since I am LOVING spinning wool (and didnt’ love spinning hemp or flax that much in comparison) I really was interested to read about her recommendation for protein fibers – rhubarb leaves.  Continue reading

Natural dyeing – Iron dye modifier

Wool, silk, and linen pre-mordanted with oak galls, and then modified with iron

Wool, silk, and linen pre-mordanted with oak galls, and then modified with iron

Iron as a pre-mordant

In all of the natural dyeing I’ve been doing (or hoping to do!) in the last little while, I read a little about using iron as a pre-mordant instead of alum. In Rebecca Burgess’ Harvesting Colour: How to find plants and make natural dyes, she notes that while alum is used for most of recipes in her book, iron is useful in several.

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Natural dyeing – Oak Galls

Green oak galls

Green oak galls

I’ve read about oak galls and their place in dyeing and ink-making a little, and didn’t think too much of them – I don’t really think of oak trees in Calgary (compared to trips to Louisiana!) but while out for a walk (playing PokemonGo!) I noticed that one of the parks near me had cute little (young) oak trees. A closer look… and there were the weird clustered balls.

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Avocado dyeing

The colour of avocado dye on linen, silk, and wool is so similar to the peonies in my backyard

The colour of avocado dye on linen, silk, and wool is so similar to the peonies in my backyard

If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that I am really enjoying exploring natural dyes. I don’t suspect I’ll ever be as prolific or dive in as deep as others I know, but I’m having fun at the moment.

As part of that, I like the idea of using found-dyestuffs; things from my garden or wanderings, or in this case, my kitchen. While lots of natural dyestuffs are available by order, these found-dyestuffs appeal to me – for lots of reasons, including economy! Continue reading

Dyeing with Madder

Madder dyed, undyed, and Aster-Marigold dyed handspun wool. This photo was taken inside at night - hence the change in colour based on the light.

Madder dyed, undyed, and Aster-Marigold dyed wool

A while back a friend proposed a dyeing day at her house. She’d just finished an inspiring natural dyeing class, and wanted to keep playing with fun dyes!

I wanted to join in, so I brought up some of the wool fibre I still had left and hadn’t spun up yet (in this case it was Grade A USA Top, in natural white) and tried to spin it fairly fine. I then decided to ply it too… (because when tight for time… why NOT do twice the work, right?)

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