Playing with dyes

by | Aug 9, 2020 | Uncategorized

spring growth on shrub

An interest in dyeing is a natural extension for anyone who works with yarn or fibre.  If you know how to dye you can develop complex colour patterns, match an existing yarn, or create that illusive shade of mauve (green, yellow etc) that captures a natural scene.  

painted warp

Dyeing involves a significant investment in materials, takes time to set up and it can be messy.  On the other hand much of it can be done outdoors in good weather.  Also the costs and work can be shared when it is a group effort.  It is a perfect activity for a guild.  Always looking for a chance to have fun and be creative, the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners have been enjoying small group “dye days”.  We tried our hand at Eco-dyeing.

Kathy’s eco dyed scarves


  Eco-dyeing, refers to a procedure for using vegetation, leaves, fruit, or flowers in their whole form to dye cloth.  The cloth, silk scarf blanks in this case, must be premordanted with alum and cream of tartar and dryed.  The dye materials are placed on the silk which is then rolled up and tied to hold the dye materails in place.  The prepared bundle is “cooked” in a mixture of salted water with metal objects added to create “rust” marks.  Rusty nails, or old rusted implements (anything that contains iron) will do as well as copper items.  A crock pot is ideal for dyeing one or two scarves.

Unwrapping the silk bundles after curing is a suprise, like a Christmas cracker.  The result is a semi-random pattern with muted colours, and if iron was involved orange/black highlights.  

 While silk scarves are a favourite base for this type of dyeing, Susan decided to test it out on wool.  She used nasturtium flowers and leaves for one and ferns for the second piece.  She plans to use the wool for rug hooking. 

Susan’s wool samples

Jackie’s silk scarf

Jackie added a pair of old garden clippers to her crock pot to get this mix of peach, browns and grays.

Recent Blog Posts

Posts by Month

Posts by Category