Jun 13, 201787 views

Any natural dyers out there?

I tried dyeing yarn with avocado pits for the first time last weekend and now I'm obsessed. It feels like magic! I kept it simple with a kitchen setup, virgin fishermen's wool, a dozen pits, no skins, and no mordant. The five-hour dye bath yielded a lovely dusty rose. Next time, I'd like to pull hourly swatches to track how the color progresses and add an iron after-bath. And then there are so many other dyestuffs I'd like to try (onion skins, marigold, indigo...) and on cotton and linen, too.
Anyone have favorite projects? Favorite dyestuffs? Resources, tips, and tricks? I'm reading Kristine Vejar's The Modern Natural Dyer now and would love to hear from you, too!
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I've done some simple stuff. Used onion skins/turmeric/mimosa to get yellow, madder/cochineal for red, and a friend has done lichens that resulted in pinks. Most of the mordants I've used have been plain alum, which isn't necessarily toxic, but can smell funny (though that's arguably the wool). My friend has used an ammonia base for her lichen, which definitely ought to be done outside.
I find natural dyes vary on what country your in. While you states people might have lovely colours we get in AU's mostly yellows and greens with the occasional ocre thrown in. I always suggest investigation of your local plant life.
I've done a little- part of my problem is most mordants that are best for natural dyes are pretty highly toxic and don't mix with a 3yo on the loose. I do love the yarns I've bought from Kristine at her shop, A Verb For Keeping Warm. They carry a lot of the dyestuffs and the less toxic mordants, which is is nice to try.