What's hiding in the weeds? Find out in our free eBook

Guide to Dyeing Yarn: How to Dye Yarn Using Natural Dyeing Techniques

What's hiding in the weeds?

Or the water, the compost heap, and the spice cabinet? Color, that's what.

Natural dyes are full of surprises. Why on earth should the red pomegranate fruit yield a greenish color while the green avocado fruit gives a reddish color? What makes the hulls of black walnuts and skins of onions—the parts most people throw away without a second thought-so rich with color?

When I was first learning to spin, I got to spend a dye day with Maggie Casey exploring the world of natural dyes. We used four dyestuffs and three mordants. The powdered cutch dye came from the other side of the world, the onionskins from someone's kitchen, the osage orange from a woodworker, and the pernambuco from a local violin bow maker. The pernambuco was my favorite, giving vivid shades of mauve-red.

It wasn't just the dyestuffs that added surprising touches of color. The iron used for mordanting came from a handful of rusty nails that Maggie had picked out at the hardware store. Even the water could change the color. We were lucky to have mineral-free water, but water that contains iron will impart its own color profile on a dyepot, possibly creating sadder or grayer colors. Natural dyer Dagmar Klos suggests trying out your tap water first, then using distilled water if the effect isn't one you like.

The writers in our free eBook Guide to Dyeing Yarn: Learn How to Dye Yarn Using Natural Dyeing Techniques show that you can be as precise or relaxed, as safe or adventurous, and ultimately as colorful as you please. With spring on the way in the Northern Hemisphere (believe it or not!), it's about time to take a dyepot and skein and dye in the great outdoors.

Happy dyeing,

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