Dyeing Fiber the Natural Way

Along with the promise of cooler weather, Fall brings with it an abundance of plants that can make dyes for fiber and yarn. As soon as I start to see the tall stalks of Goldenrod blooming along the roadside, I want to pull out my dye pots and start to play.

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I do have a sensible side though. I always like to have a plan for the fiber I spin or yarn that I dye. This project is no exception. I have found a pattern on Ravelry that I think lends itself to natural dye colors. The pattern calls for a collection of 5 colors. I’m planning to dye 7 colors. This will give me the option of choosing from them, or indulging the pattern with additional colors.

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For my project I’m going to dye 2 oz of Superwash Merino roving with each color. My project will be hand spun. InĀ  order to make the best use of my time, I want to dye some extra for sale. I’m making 4 oz balls of roving as well. I have also decided to dye some yarn at the same time so that I can make up several mini skeins to sell on my Etsy shop.

I have pre-mordented my wool using 3 oz Alum and 1 oz Cream of Tartar per pound of fiber. I’ve heated the wool in enough water to allow it to move freely. I brought it to the simmering point. Then kept it there for 1 hour and before allowing it to cool in the pot before removing it.

My 1st dye pot is Goldenrod.

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I gathered enough to fill my large pot, covered it with water, and let it simmer for about 2 hours. I don’t want to boil it as this will cause the dye to turn brownish. Once it cooled down enough to handle, I poured it through a paper towel lined colander to remove all the spent flowers.

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I then add the fiber and bring it back up to a simmer for an hour or so until I had achieved the color I wanted. It’s OK to just leave it in there until the water cools.

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I added double the amount that I want for my yellow color. Here’s why. I want to place some in an after bath of Iron in order to get a green fiber. For this I used an old rusty horseshoe in a pot of water. I add the goldenrod dyed wool and again bring it to a simmer for about 30 minutes. The longer it is in this pot, the darker the green becomes. So in this case you don’t want to wait for the water to cool.

I think I’m off to a good start for my Natural Dye Project!

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Now I can just enjoy the flowers for a while!

I did the same process last year and made a hat with my green yarn.

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