Skip to content

dyeing from nature

October 23, 2020


remember those two different mushrooms that I brought home from the cemetery

after identifying them, I tried dyeing

first with Russula emetica – (not totally sure of it’s identity)

really excited !

until I took it out of the dye pot and most of the colour drained out

so- it is the first lock of fleece – a very pale flesh pink

the second lock is the colour from Lactarius delicious (Delicious Milk Cap)

All That the Rain Promises”  reads “edible but not necessarily delicious.” so – what’s in a name?

it gave a soft butter yellow

I took the skein dyed in the first pot and top dyed it in the second

it is the rather pale top skein – the white skein is there just to prove that there was any colour at all

yesterday was warm and sunny – a good day to dig up the madder root – it has been growing for 3 years

it is not difficult to know which roots to save

break them open and they are a bright orange

 fairly soft, not brittle and don’t break cleanly

 leave them in the sun to dry, clean with an old tooth brush

then chop/grind up as small as possible -I once used an old blender but it has died

so I use the garden secateurs -careful of your fingers!

soak in water for a few hours to remove any dirt and some of the yellow pigment

change water, heat gently but always below a simmer or the colour you get will be brown

wool still in the pot after 1 hour on low heat – roots left in the dye – alum mordant

it is difficult to get a picture when steam fogs up the camera lens

for anyone interested in learning about natural dyeing the best and most reliable information

is in Jenny Dean’s book “Wild Color

I have the first 1999 edition but a new updated edition was published in 2010

every natural dyer, new and experienced , should have this book

(I don’t get anything for this recommendation)

and beware – you can’t believe everything you read on the internet!

the colours in nature never fail to please


nature’s art

October 18, 2020

a neighbor brought me a feast of chanterelles – what a treat

look at their pleated under-skirts – aren’t they beautiful?

with a little butter, lemon juice and garlic they made a delicious pasta sauce – thank you Janine

 in search of mushrooms that contain a dye

my favorite mushroom books

All That the Rain Promises and More –  excellent for identifying and also a fun read

with recipes, tall tales from the woods, dyeing info with a picture of a mushroom-dyed tapestry and even a haiku or two 

“Mushroom hunting;

They don’t run away,

But everyone’s in such a hurry!”   Japanese

remember those little red mushrooms in my Oct. 14 post?

they didn’t dye anything

between rain squalls I went for a walk in Ross Bay Cemetery

with a wide variety of old trees, it has an abundance of mushrooms

a resident deer population

and slugs?

a Russula of some sort – the dye colour is not worth the effort

these are  possibly Shaggy Parasols but I left them so no spore print to verify


I brought these home to see the colour of their spore prints – a nice orangey/yellow

a Delicious Milk Cap -lactarius deliciosus – The Rainbow Beneath My Feet – lists it under “Dye Duds”

not sure about the red one, will try dyeing a small skein

and finally, October’s natural dyes for my monthly challenge

from the top – Corriedale wool, cotton (a pale greeny yellow)

and a handspun, singles silk – so fragile I don’t think it will ever be used

dyed with grape leaves, alum mordant

 I cooked a large supply of leaves separately in two pots, combined them and then simmered the yarn for 3 hours

the bottom skein was the final pot of all the Hopi sunflower seed dye

it sat in the sun for 3 weeks, went mouldy and smelled TERRIBLE

Romney wool, alum mordant


Scrap Happy October

October 14, 2020

marking time

 still adding a hexie flower to the window every week – each Monday morning

it is interesting to see how such a deliberate and physical observation has affected my awareness of time

number 33 – you can just see them through the reflection

because I’ve never made a quilt or stitched hexies I needed to figure out how these were all going to go together

so I started to make extras

and then stitch them together

 now I have a hexie wreath with seven flowers and a border – 15inches/38cm. across

if they go together as a nine patch I would need 63 individual flowers 

already there are almost enough for five in the window

plus the trial one above

and another half finished

there will need to be a small star shape to join the wreaths

when I figure out exactly how to make them they may start going in the window

and then the borders pose a problem as I’m not sure there are enough plain coloured fabrics in the stash

oh, gee whiz!

when I started this whole hexie thing I had no idea where it would take me

please excuse my rambling – my brain is having trouble putting all this together

oops! I forgot to add the links to other scrap happy folks – here they are

Kate Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean (me),
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, and Nanette

being thankful

October 11, 2020

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

not much of a celebration this year

with the change in weather I’m back to baking bread

the rain has arrived and mushrooms are popping up everywhere

in the neighbor’s garden this one is as large as a birdbath

possibly an Amanita rubescens  

and in my garden

possibly Dermocybe phoenicea or Western red-dye

if I’m correct they give a good, strong red dye

but they are small and not many of them

I may try a tiny skein of wool – when the rain stops

lots to be thankful for



October 9, 2020

I’ve been missing but definitely active

hardy cyclamen are blooming everywhere

WordPress, in all their wisdom switched the blogging platform I’ve always used, am familiar with and is quick and easy

a reply from the “help” desk was more like a “buck up and get on with it” message rather than help

I’ve been messing around with it for days until frustration leaves me tearing my hair out

and I’ve finally found my way back to the quick and easy

in the meantime….

I’ve been pruning, sawing, weeding and hacking at the back garden

filling 4 large bags per day (that’s all my car can load)

and hauling it off to the dump – 7 trips so far

as the weather is good and everyone seems to have the same idea – the line-up at the dump is anywhere from 25mins. to 1 hr. 15minutes.

but I get to sit and stitch – hexies!

that requires more paper templates

a job I find tedious but necessary

and because the window hexies are starting to add up

I’m slowly making a few extras to experiment with how to put them all together

for those readers who liked the “old fashioned” look of the previous one

here is a floral bouquet

in the evenings, when I’m exhausted and my brain is no longer functioning I sit and spin

top – 100gms. of fine 2ply Merino/alpaca/silk blend

below- 120gms. of flick carded 2 ply Romney

taking my time to decide what colours to dye

while pruning the grape vine I saved the leaves for dyeing but the pot is too heavy to heat on the stove

do they get heated in several batches or only use a smaller portion?

it gives a soft yellow so the more leaves the stronger the colour

and for a bit of light relief

my mascot, Minnie Moose, is showing off her new mask

she was packed, ready to go to Japan in May – cancelled of course

Brenda made the masks – thank you Brenda

  enough for all the folks who participate in the Sheep to Shawl exhibit at the Saanich Fair – which was also cancelled

Minnie loves her new fashion statement and hopes it keeps her safe so she can go to Japan – sometime soon

but she complains that her ears hurt

hopefully my computer problems are all sorted out

10 years – is a lot of writing and pictures

September 28, 2020

onesmallstitch is 10 years old today

I never imagined where the blog would take me

how much I would learn

 the people I’d meet – or the friends I would make

 and the greatest thanks goes to those readers who leave comments

all the time it takes to think about what to make and write

take dozens of pictures – just to get one good one where the colour is “almost” perfect

write  thoughtful, interesting? and readable comment – with reasonable spelling and grammar

takes TIME

and means nothing unless you connect with the people who visit

 I’m still marking the passage of time

window hexie number 31 – with an old-fashion look

 really hoping this doesn’t go on long enough that I have a quilt in the end

of course I often consider what I will call “the end”

thank you for visiting

sun and rain

September 25, 2020

we’ve had rain, welcome, but rather a lot of it

followed by the sun – also welcome

more sunflowers from my neighbour

she planted many different kinds but couldn’t remember which were the black Hopi used for dyeing

I took a guess and added them to the first batch which had been sitting in the sun for 2 weeks

the smell was pungent!

the first weak vat was uninspiring

I added the extra seeds and simmered 1 hour

after removing a small sample, the first  skein went back into the “new” vat and again simmered 1 hour

which produced a nice olive green

I seem to be spending most of my time spinning – it is very comforting

the Romney fleece, washed and flick carded

singles spun on Turkish spindle and plied on the wheel

hopefully this will keep me busy for awhile

I’m enjoying spinning a very fine 2 ply silk, Merino and alpaca blend

and when the sun is shining pruning, weeding and winterizing the garden

the fig tree is getting a massive pruning- too much for my handsaw

the boys are coming with a chainsaw on the weekend

this and that

September 17, 2020

it has been a very strange week – like living on another planet

this is the sun at 3pm – smoke from the fires south of us

the smell is always there

and, like fog, sound is muted

Canada Post suspended delivery for 2 days due to poor air quality

 just thankful we don’t have the fires to worry about

I’ve been staying inside but today I needed some fresh/smoky air and did a quick trip around the block

definite signs of Autumn are everywhere

the river birch is peeling – look at the layers, wonderful texture

the neighbour’s garden is bright and beautiful

Autumn crocus are abundant

and the squirrels are frantically gathering – blending in with the lichen

we’ve had rain for the past two nights

mushrooms are scattered along the boulavard – Birch Bolete – edible – but I’ll pass

these are a different bolete

I read somewhere that some of them give a dye but there aren’t enough to try

 then a trip to Knotty by Nature

one of Ryan’s customers brought him an entire bucket of Lobster mushrooms

they give a good dye- shades of pink

I bought 1 1/2 lbs. of Romney wool

it is very clean so I hand carded some and tried spinning but it is quite greasy

tomorrow I’ll soak it in a bucket of hot water to make it easier to spin on the Turkish spindle

I do get excited about some nice fleece

I spun the medium grey Corriedale last week (in the middle)

and then put a skein in the exhaust bath of the dark purple hollyhocks

the camera has trouble capturing the colour but it is khaki –  oh, la la!

the tapestry is progressing, slowly – as tapestries do

and I’m stitching and gathering tightly a meter of the linen fabric to dye a checkerboard pattern

each little bobble has to be wrapped and tied in plastic wrap so this will take some time

I’ll let you know how it goes

Scrap Happy September

September 14, 2020

can’t believe it is half way through September

how did summer slip by so quietly?

I started posting with the Scrap Happy folks in May 2018

more than 2 years and I haven’t missed a month

but I thought this month was a miss

and then realized the mending I had been plodding along with was perfect

my favorite (only respectable) pair of jeans are old and well worn

unlike my granddaughters I don’t wear or pay an unreasonable sum for factory torn trendy jeans

so when the left knee developed a hole it required a patch

I stitched and dyed a small shibori piece

that’s it on the right – but it looked too bright and new

so, into the scrap bag for some poorly dyed indigo and a handful of thrums

and the offending hole was stitched over

 while having tea with daughter-in-law I stuck my finger through a weak spot – oops!

and had to add another patch

because there wasn’t much of the indigo scrap left a little brightness was in order

but it felt lopsided, so the right leg needed some cheering up

and then the last little scrap of Winnie wanted in

so I stitched him into a pocket

the flap is a cuff from the striped shirt I’ve been using – it already had a buttonhole

so I added a mother-of-pearl button from Mother’s button jar

and now I’m almost embarrassed to wear them

I wonder how much these old jeans would fetch on the streets of Tokyo?

if you want to see what other scrappers are doing here is the list

Kate Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean (me),
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin and Vera

nature’s green

September 12, 2020

suddenly, summer is just a memory

the hollyhocks are finished

over the summer I freeze the dark purple blossoms as they drop

with over 500 gms. this year, I heated them to just below a simmer

and without removing the blossoms, dyed 60 gms. of handspun Corriedale for 1 hour

 turned off the heat and put in 65gms. of singles handspun mulberry (very white) silk

and left it overnight to cool

after removing the wool and silk it still looked like there was some dye potential

so I put in 40 gms. of cotton and heated it for 1 hour

from the bottom; cotton, wool and silk

it is interesting that the two wool skeins are exactly the same but one is a purple grey and the other a green grey

and the cotton is also a green grey

for none dyers – green is a difficult colour to get with natural dyes unless you first dye yellow and then top dye with indigo

the mysteries and surprises of natural dyeing

mordants were alum on wool and silk – myrobalan and alum on the cotton

the small wool felt square is a very definite green

and the silk is a beautiful soft purple

more colour while on a walk through Beacon Hill Park

he just jumped up there and posed – proud and arrogant

and he knows it