Experiments in Color

Back in October, I signed up for a natural dyeing class at our local homesteading store. Jake wanted to come too, so the two of us walked up to the shop to learn more about the colors we can derive from the natural sources around us. I'm so fortunate to have a husband that is so supportive, and shows interest in things I'm interested in. He was interested for different reasons, but I love that we can both go to things like this class and take something away from it. For me, it was all about learning about the dye process, and what colors I could extract from local plants. For him, it was all about learning about the chemical process, and the history of natural dyes.

I digress.

The class was a blast. I learned so much, and we each got to dye a skein to bring home. He chose madder root, I chose hibiscus flowers. They were completely different, and both so beautiful. Since then, I've been doing some experimenting with natural dyeing, and I thought I'd share some of it with you. 

These are the most recent skeins I've dyed. The one on the left was dyed with ivy leaves, and the one on the right was dyed with alkanet root. I bought the alkanet root, but I harvested all the ivy leaves from our yard - that makes that skein even more special to me. I'm really happy with how these both turned out, even though the alkanet skein is a bit more variegated than I had hoped. I think it was because I put in some baking soda after the yarn was in the dye pot, and it didn't reach all the dye. It's still lovely though.

And here they all are. These are all the skeins I have that have been naturally dyed. From left to right are: madder root, hibiscus flowers (those two are from the workshop), marigolds, black beans overdyed with a tiny bit of hibiscus, black bean overdyed with ivy, ivy, and alkanet root.

I've been chatting back and forth with some local fiber enthusiasts who are also experimenting with natural dyeing, and we're in the process of planning a time to meet up and do some dyeing together. I've been having so much fun with it, and would encourage you to give it a try if it's something you've been thinking about.

I'm always excited about spring and all the flowers that grow in my yard, but this year I'm excited to use some of those flowers to dye with! I've been dreaming of a little dye garden for years, and am more inspired than ever to plant one.


  1. very pretty ones !
    I was more about chemical dyes, but it makes me want to experiment the natural ones :)

  2. MichelleCarter1/20/15, 11:50 AM

    I've often wondered if natural dyes gave a weak color compared to acid dyes, since I haven't seen much done that way. But these are so vibrant, while still being subtle. Have you thought of doing a step by step tutorial? The main deterrent for me, in dyeing at home, has been dealing with chemicals. I'm thinking I'd definitely try this, though! They're gorgeous!

  3. MariaMuscarella1/20/15, 6:21 PM

    Such lovely colors!!! Can't wait to play!!

  4. Your skeins so far are so beautiful! And because they're all so "natural" looking (for lack of a better word!) they go together really well! I guess I'm talking about the tone and saturation you're getting using these natural dyes. Do you have any projects planned for using these, or are you going to enjoy looking at them for a while?

  5. I haven't thought of doing a tutorial, but that actually sounds really fun. I'd love to document my process, even if it's just for me! Thanks for the idea!

  6. Thank you!! I can't either! So excited! :)

  7. Woollen Wilderness1/22/15, 4:42 PM

    These skeins are beautiful. I've never dyed yarn myself, but trying with natural dyes would certainly be an interesting experiment (especially now I've seen how good the results can be).

  8. It's really been lots of fun experimenting. I'd definitely recommend giving it a try if you can!