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still dyeing

July 20, 2019

after the yarrow dyeing

I looked around the garden and found “Lady’s Mantle” ( Alchemilla mollis) in full bloom

the plant happily self-seeds all over the place (it is easy to pull out when you’ve had enough!)

flowers only went into the pot

handspun wool – both natural white and the same pale grey as the yarrow

I’ve had one of those ah ha! moments

and realized that using wool felt to dye small samples is quick, easy and inexpensive

easy to alum mordant or dip in the indigo and keep a sample stash ready

 it is great to have an indigo vat waiting to top dye

(click to enlarge)

the lady’s mantle felt was dyed in the second exhaust bath (after 2 skeins of wool and Jill’s tee shirt)

  proof that the fragile looking flowers give a strong dye

yesterday was a dye day with Jillian

she brought two 100% cotton tee shirts

we tied shibori circles with Japanese ikat tape

quicker than thread and a whole lot better than elastic bands

four dips in the indigo – she just couldn’t wait any longer to see the results

don’t you love the gloves?

ta da! – an introduction to natural indigo and shibori

the second tee needed to be alum mordanted

but because we had limited time I didn’t do a tannin bath as suggested in “The Art and Science of Natural Dyes”

so I added 10% myrobalan to the lady’s mantle pot and simmered for an hour

I was worried the cotton wouldn’t take the dye and didn’t want her dyeing experience to be a disappointment

it is a little darker and more yellow than the picture shows

   she was happy – me too!

the municipality has been cutting down boulevard birch trees  – I absolutely hate the sounds of chain saws!

but the trees are slowly dying – and they are re-planting

so I spent the day picking lichen sitting on the grass

talking to folks who were passing by and meeting two new neighbors

then I carried home two smaller branches

and stripped them of the bark which is now in a pot soaking

 waiting to see what colour it gives

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2021 8:59 am

    I’m new to dyeing and am still getting to used to the various concepts. Is alum okay to use as a mordant with non-animal fibres?


    • June 12, 2021 11:54 am

      Helen – take a workshop from someone who teaches professionally and has been dyeing for years. Get a good book – Jenny Dean’s “Wild Colours” is a good start. Don’t believe everything you read online! Alum is the only commercial mordant I use, some of the old traditional mordants are dangerous both to yourself and the planet. Plant fibre is difficult to dye dark, strong colours, I mordant twice, first with a tannin and then alum. Go to Maiwa Handprints website for all sorts of free info. is always reliable and she is using European dyestuff. “Natural Dyes” by Dominique Cardon is my all time favorite book but very detailed/academic, also expensive, maybe get it from a library. Have fun.


  2. July 21, 2019 6:25 am

    What a glorious summer of colour!


  3. July 21, 2019 3:53 am

    What a fun day for Jill! The next generation . . . .

    And how important it is to proofread and be sure you always use the “e” with this sort of dyeing.


    • July 21, 2019 7:43 am

      Kerry – it would be nice to think there will be future generations to carry on. Yes, the “e” is important – think spellcheck has given up on me – it hates colour with a “u”.


  4. July 20, 2019 3:50 pm

    That indigo is wonderfully intense!

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 20, 2019 4:02 pm

      Kate – Jill was excited to see the finished work, I’m pleased that she got such a good colour with only 4 dips. the fruit vat is working well.


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