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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


8 Comments leave one →
  1. lagriccia permalink
    October 26, 2020 10:56 pm

    I agree, you can not believe anything you read on the internet, like obtaining fabulous pinks from avocado! I love your experimentation with mushrooms.


    • October 27, 2020 10:00 am

      Hi Blandina – it is always nice to hear from you. So right! I wonder why people think it is o.k. to put such poorly researched wrong information “out there”. Do they think people are dumb enough to believe it?? but of course, being next door to the U.S.A. and receiving all their news etc. it is incredible to see what people will believe. At least false dyeing info won’t harm or kill anyone! I hope all is well with you and your family. Stay safe, hugs.


  2. October 24, 2020 2:22 am

    I love your updates about natural dye baths. Thank you so much


  3. October 23, 2020 10:19 pm

    So true … nature never ceases to please 😍


  4. October 23, 2020 3:46 pm

    The broken madder root looks amazing!


    • October 23, 2020 7:14 pm

      Kjerstin – my little patch never produces many roots and I always save a couple of the best to re-plant but I like the idea of being connected to the long history of such an ancient dye. When I seriously want red I buy madder from Maiwa. Ryan got it for me the last time he ordered from them.


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