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 apple leaves and twigs

Finished apple leave and twig-dyed wool yarn showed with undyed yarn for comparison.

Finished apple leave and twig-dyed wool yarn showed with undyed yarn for comparison.

In my last post about dyeing with apple tree bark, I showed off my finished yarn (sort of a soft mustard with a touch of peach… but in actuality I did the research first, and then did some totally different dyeing before going back to what I had researched.

I wanted the chance to dye just with apple leaves, and a chance to dye just with the bark – BUT in all of my research I got antsy… too antsy to wait for the bark to soak, and too antsy to find the alum for the leaves and do the pre-dye mordant.

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Natural dyeing with apple tree bark

natural white Romney handspun 2-ply wool dyed with apple tree twigs and bark

natural white Romney handspun 2-ply wool dyed with apple tree twigs and bark

We were trimming our apple trees this fall, and I thought I remembered something online about dyeing with apple tree bark. I did a super-quick search (as the branches were coming down practically) and found enough to make me want to save some of the branches for an experiment…

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