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dyeing to weave

February 13, 2018

seriously working on a traditional wedge weave piece

no playing around but having fun

handspun yarns, all natural dyes

this is a little wider than previous pieces

in order to prevent it from narrowing in as the weaving progresses

I tied it to the loom frame approximately every inch

planning the next piece as this one is almost finished

more yarn in the dye pot

I tipped out a large bag of mixed lichen on the kitchen floor

separating the different types took some time

note to self — bag them separately when they are first stored

some of these are several years old and very dusty – wear a mask if the dust will bother you

NEVER – pick living lichen off rocks, trees etc.

go out after a wind storm and pick up what has fallen or harvest them off firewood

the first to go in the pot was Lobaria Pulmonaria or lung wort, oak rag

it is easy to identify, big floppy sheets of it

and gives a strong warm brown – sorry the picture is blurry but the colour is very close

an advantage with lichens is they don’t need a mordant

my dyeing process takes time and patience

soak overnight

then simmer for 1-3 hours, and leave to cool overnight

place yarn in the dye (I don’t remove the plant material, it shakes out fairly easily)

bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour

again leave it to cool in the pot overnight

a pot of parmelia is ready to dye tomorrow

samples from my first workshop in the 1980’s

the colours are still as bright as the day they were dyed



8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2018 10:35 am

    love the colors. i tried some years ago and got yellows perhaps due to the water?


    • March 4, 2018 10:48 am

      Neki – when dyeing with lichen to get different colours you need to separate the different types. It helps to have a good book and be able to identify them. The results can be very different depending on where they have grown, time of year etc. doubt that the water will make too much difference. As with all natural dyeing it helps to do a bit of research. I pick up windfalls throughout the year and store them dried. The colours might have been stronger if they had been fresher.


  2. February 18, 2018 4:31 am

    The colors you get are really phenomenal! And that’s a great technique to help prevent draw-in–I had a lot of trouble with that when I did my one and only tapestry.


    • February 18, 2018 8:46 am

      Kerry – natural dyeing is fun and frequently has a surprise or two. There is a lot of yellow and beige!


  3. Judy permalink
    February 16, 2018 10:14 am

    What an inspiring post! I’ve always wanted to try natural dyeing, and I never have. I love the soft blendable colors that you achieved. Nice weaving too!


    • February 16, 2018 10:54 am

      Judy – thank you for the kind words. I LOVE natural dyeing, even if you get something you don’t like you can over dye it. Researching and studying gives you a greater appreciation of the natural world, it turns walks in the woods into a new adventure. You can easily grow some dye plants even if only in a couple pots. Give it a try.


  4. February 13, 2018 10:38 pm

    You have got very nice lichens colors. I tried it, but I never did it. Perhaps a bad kind of lichens, maybe something was wrong. I don’t know. When I see your beautiful colors, I will not give up and I will try it again. Thank you for sharing your experiences.


    • February 13, 2018 11:16 pm

      Vladka – please try again, maybe with a different lichen. The colours are very strong and the wool smells nice (woodsy) and lasts forever. Thank you for reading my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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