sitemap Natural Wool and Yarn Dyes from Plants, Mushrooms, and Lichen

Natural Dyeing: Helpful Tips

The water you use for dyeing should be soft. Most tap water is too hard, and you should add a softener to it. If you are able to collect rain water that would be ideal. The following items are useful for dyeing, do not use them also for cooking.

Wool Preparation
When working with raw wool fleece, you must first scour the wool to remove the oil from the fiber. For 1lb of wool: fill 3-4 gallons of water in a pot with detergent (like Dawn). Put the wool in and slowly simmer for 45 minutes. Cool, then rinse.

Types of Mordants

Alum is most the frequently used. Solution: 4 ounces and 1 ounce cream of tartar for 1lb of wool. Chrome is used for warm colors. It enhances yellows, reds, and mutes greens. Solution: 1/2 ounce and 3/4 ounce cream of tartar for 1lb of wool.

Iron is used to gray colors. Do not make a mordant solution but add to the dye bath at the end of the dyeing process and simmer 20-40 minutes - 1/2 ounce and 1 ounce cream of tartar.

Mordant Directions
Dissolve the mordant in a small amount of hot water. Add 4-5 more gallons of water, enough to cover 1lb of wool, and heat to luke warm. Add the wool and simmer 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Cool and rinse.

Dyeing Time

Place wet wool in luke warm dye bath and slowly raise to a simmer.

Dyes from flowers, fruits, and tender leaves: simmer 30 minutes - 1 hour

Dyes from tough leaves, roots, nut hulls, and bark: simmer 1 minutes - 2 hours

Cool and rinse until the rinse water is clear. Do's and Dont's

Never agitate the wool or it will felt. Lift and turn it gently in plenty of water.

Never shock with extreme changes in water temperature

Do not wring or twist - squeeze gently to remove excess water

It is not necessary to cover the pot when simmer in, unless you are using chrome which is light sensitive.

Dye entire amount of wool needed for project in one bath

Add white vinegar (1/4 cup per gallon) to rinse water to help soften the wool.

Natural Dyeing From Plants

Some of the most beautiful natural dyes come from plants and roots found in your own backyard. You can grow your own dyer's garden or use what nature provides. Pioneer Thinking has a listing of plant materials and their dye colors plus information on how to prepare the plants for dyeing. Have fun experimenting.

Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dying.

To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. [Read more...]


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