Log in

No account? Create an account
Natural Dyers
[Most Recent Entries] [Calendar View] [Friends]

Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Natural Dyers' LiveJournal:

[ << Previous 20 ]
Sunday, April 25th, 2010
7:03 pm
Indigo Vat at EK Spring War Practice
I did an indigo dye demo as part of the "artisan's row" at East Kingdom Southern Region Spring War Practice yesterday--it's normally a hit with the kids (young and old) who get to watch the fibre turn from green to blue, and they get to learn a little chemistry while they watch.

Due to site restrictions on open fires, I did it on my trusty Coleman stove in my normal aluminium dye pot. I decided to go with a few skeins of different fibres, including different breeds of wool and a couple skeins that would be top-dyed with the indigo. I used Spectralite and washing soda (15 g synthetic indigo::9 g Spectralite::90 g sodium bicarbonate) as reducers in the stock solution, which I mixed up at home so I wouldn't have to bring my digital kitchen scale outside.

PhotosCollapse )

Current Mood: creative
Friday, November 6th, 2009
3:50 pm
A cochineal project
I really wanted to make a blanket in which everything was dyed with cochineal either by itself or with other dyes. So I made my daughter a wool blanket, hand dyed with only natural dyes.

Fushia: Cochineal, alum and cream of tartar mordant
Pink: Cochineal, no mordant
Red: Cochineal and madder, alum and cream of tartar mordant
Orange: Cochineal and fustic, alum and cream of tartar mordant
Purple: Cochineal and logwood alum mordant
Dusky Pink: Lac, Cochineal and Fustic, alum and cream of tartar mordant

Thursday, April 9th, 2009
11:18 pm
Bolete dye
All these samples were dyed using one red-pored bolete. The left two are silk; the others are variously merino and shetland wool. The warmer colors come from the outer (reddish) flesh of the bolete, while the cooler ones come from the yellow inside. The red is taken up very quickly, so the dye bath produces increasingly cool shades of gold as time progresses. Consistent goldenrod shades can be produced by avoiding the inclusion of any red parts.

Unfortunately the mushroom was quite old and maggoty, so I could not dye with the pores.

This bolete stained blue, but acid quickly restored the original colors. Nothing I tried was capable of fixing the blue color. I have no idea what compound causes the staining.

I have no idea how this color will age. It's acid-fast, at least. :)

There was one serious hazard involved in this project: the dye bath smelled delicious, like garlic roasting in butter! The odor permeated the whole house. My housemates were quite disappointed to learn that it came from a poisonous mushroom (nearly all red-pored, blue-staining boletes found in the US are poisonous).

PictureCollapse )
Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
11:30 am

I am getting ready for yet another service trip and this one will be to Ruhengeri, Rwanda. I have been invited by True Vineyard Ministries (www.truevineyard.org

to lend my expertise in fiber/yarn and work with 10 genocide widows in both spinning and the art of natural dyeing. There is much dyestuff available in the region, several varieties of eucalyptus, mushrooms and even marigolds. When I was in India I learned how to make a safe, natural black and I will be sharing this with the women as well. The end product for the yarn these women spin and dye will be rugs that will then be available for sale. The women have each been given a sheep to care for by the ministry, a man who was a shepherd before the genocide has been hired to help the women to learn to care for the sheep and he also does the shearing. 


There will be photos of the women, their yarn and even one of the sheep in a few days. As soon as the page is live I will e-mail the link.


I will be leaving for Rwanda on June 26th and returning to Brooklyn on July 11th. 


The ministry will be booking my plane ticket in about three weeks. I need to raise $5000.00 for this trip. This money will cover all costs, including airfare, meals, accommodations, in country transportation, translators, etc. Although I am planning bake sales and tag sales and a fund-raising talk I am appealing to all of you reading this newsletter to please donate - if 500 people donate 10 dollars the money has been raised.


Here is how you can donate:

You can make your check payable to True Vineyard Ministries with my name, Linda LaBelle, down on the memo section. 

Your financial gift is 100% tax deductible. 


It can be sent to:

True Vineyard Ministries, Inc.

102 Wonder World Dr., Ste. 304-112

San Marcos, TX 78666


You can also donate through  directly through True Vineyard's website, here is the link:



On the page you will notice a space that says "other" please put in honor of Linda LaBelle and not for Linda LaBelle's trip as the money then comes in as designated funds and is not as easy for it to be tax deductible for the contributor. 


You can also send checks directly to The Yarn Tree, please be sure to make the check payable  to True Vineyard Ministry.

The Yarn Tree

P.O. Box 110598

Brooklyn, NY 11211


I thank you in advance for your consideration in assisting me with this endeavor to help these widows and their children.


If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me:





Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
2:24 pm
books .....
I am a complete n00b at dying.

I have Liles book (and have had for a long time), what other books do you recommend?

I'm looking at Dyes from American Native Plants: A Practical Guide by Lynne Richards
Dye Plants and Dyeing by John Cannon and
A Dyer's Garden: From Plant to Pot: Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers by Rita Buchanan

Which one(s) would you get -- or would you recommend others?

Thursday, October 16th, 2008
4:19 pm
New LJ community: SCA_Fiber_Arts
I've started a new LJ community, sca_fiber_arts, with the hopes of creating an SCA specific forum of people into natural dyestuffs, fleece preparation, spinning, knitting, embroidery, braiding, kumihimo, lucet, fingerloop-braids, card-weaving, inkle-weaving, weaving cloth for costuming, fulling, and/or other very hands-on textile arts that go beyond purchasing cloth and sewing a costume for SCA events.

Please come join us, help cross-post the creation of the group, and otherwise get the word out. Also, feel free to come and introduce yourselves, share links to your journals and blogs, tell us about your projects, sources you've found, books you've read, sites you adore, and other tips to help us all become better artisans in our own personal fiber art!
Saturday, September 13th, 2008
10:45 am
Dyeing in the washing machine?
Bit of a strange question I suppose - I vaguely remember having a conversation some time ago with someone who said she had successfully used madder to dye cloth in the washing machine. Has anyone tried this and, if so, did it work? It'd be very handy if it did!
Sunday, August 31st, 2008
11:06 pm
Madder experimentation, including overdye
Apologies to any of you who might be on the SCA_NaturalDyes Yahoo group or have friended me and thus might see this information twice.

I'd polled the crafty types on said mailing list a couple months ago, asking whether anyone had tried dyeing with madder on a naturally darker fibre to make a "truer" red, and got a vague consensus that the result would be a grey-red, or something similar.

Actually tried that theory out, today.Collapse )
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
8:17 am
I just joined a couple of weeks ago and have a couple of questions.

I know onion skins are widely used for a yellow to gold colour, but has anyone tried using red onion skins? I eat a lot of red onions as they are milder than white or green onions, and go well with fish (my favourite food), so I have started saving the skins but have read nowhere what colour they will give.

I went to a dyeing workshop (where I caught the bug) and the woman doing it used a certain material to show us the colours. It was a type of silk, but very rough and it feels more like cotton. She used it as it is supposedly cheap and so good for experimenting, but it would also make good bags for runes and cards. I cannot remember what she called it, and searching ebay hasn't helped. Has anyone got any ideas?

Thanks in advance. I am brand new to this and just got some dyestuffs and mordants last week so would love to start experimenting, but not sure what to start on!
Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
7:04 pm
First post! And recent projects
Hi there,

I'm a spinner, did a bit of wool dyeing back last year using Dylon, then moved on to natural dyes - thought you might like to see my most recent experiments!

pics under cutCollapse )
Sunday, April 20th, 2008
10:15 am
Has anyone dyed with Brazilwood? If so, what recipe did you use? What mordant?
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
8:01 pm
Has anyone tried dyeing with beets? I have to date only accidentally dyed my hands and stained my clothes. I'm hoping to use some water I boiled beets in to dye linen. I have not dyed linen before (except one sample with powdered savory).

My plan was to mordant with a vinegar solution. Then I saw in one of my old books that linen is supposed to be scoured and bleached with "alkaline lye" before mordanting. Of course, I can't find the recipe I was going to use now when I want it, so I'm poking around in my books. (sigh)

I can't seem to buy lye here as all the hardware stores seem to think I will make nefarious and illegal things in my bathtub with it. (?) Apparently this has been a major problem and it has stopped any lye soap-making in these parts unless one has a business license specifying purchase of a certain class of chemicals. Very frustrating. I have not tried to import it either, but I wonder if I need the lye at all if the linen was purchased white. I already washed out the sizing.

If anyone has links for how to dye with beet "juice" I would love them. Also would enjoy knowing of your experiences with beets. Thanks for taking the time.
Monday, October 8th, 2007
6:17 pm
Madder Again
It seems to be the week for madder, and I managed some real success today. True red!

Current Mood: accomplished
Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
4:21 am
New to community


I didnt know there was specifically a natural dye community around here. I've been on some hand spinning sites for a while.

"I dye therefore I spin"

I guess this has become my catch phrase over the years. I do natural historic dye demos 1600 Northern Europe and 1600+ new world including Midwest territory for museums, history fairs, historical centers and schools.  My demo is rather flexible and includes not only native plants to the region but what was available in trade.

My catch phrase comes from when I 1st started out i had a terrible time with commercially purchased wool. The whole thing of not being 100% wool sometimes and/or the chemicals manufacturers use. So i started spinning so i could have pure Wool samples for my demo to get pretty close to the actual colors achieved historically. ( i don't weave, i have no clue how to knit or crochet)

So I've been doing this for about 10 years. Even with 10 years of experience i still get surprises and sometimes disasters. My demos are done in historic camps over a camp fire, with  either a cast iron pot or a copper pot and site water which is most often well water. Lots of variables!

I have a lovely basket of all kinds of skeins and samples, with many different shades and colors. Much of  which is faded and filthy from being outdoors in rain and snow with millions of grubby school kids touching them.

To keep my demo simple and to keep it directed to working class commoners and not so much the historical guilded master dyers i use materials, mordants, and extraction methods that are very basic.

My mission is to prove that even common folk historically had color, unlike what Hollywood likes to show in movies.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007
10:13 am
Goldenrod + indigo =
Here's two pictures of a skein of silk thread (20/2 size) that I finished dying yesterday.

I first had dyed it with goldenrod and alum mordant last fall, and yesterday I finally overdyed it with indigo now that I finally got the indigo to work. It came out a little mottled, but I'm quite happy with it. I only dipped it in the indigo for maybe 2 minutes, not long at all. It was dipped along with a twin skein, both smallish, to be used as warp for tablet weaving along with some other goldenrod-yellow silk.

I found out that a LOT of the indigo will wash out, but that's what I wanted, so that was okay. Also, a vinegar rinse seemed to make it much bluer, and a baking soda rinse made it greener (or yellower, depending on your perspective), which is what I wanted, so I went with the soda rinse after trying both.

Sorry for being so brief, but I'm fried from being up way too early for work. Just ask for more info!

Green silk dark

Green silk light

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, March 3rd, 2007
9:34 pm
My Madder Process, for anyone who is interested
Pre: I crocheted the bag first out of wool that was undyed. I was using scraps so I had a few different variations of greyish wool

Scouring: I scoured the wool by filling my sink with water as hot as the tap goes (which was measured at 150 F) and added about 1 tsp of Orvus Paste. I moved the bag around and generally let it be for an hour. I then drained the water, squeezed out the excess water.

Mordant: I used snow for water, as I live in Calgary and our water is very very hard. Rather than buying soft water, I figured I would use what nature gives us. I melted the snow and heated it a bit. I added 15 % WOF alum and 6 % WOF cream of tartar. Added the still wet bag to the pot and slowly brought the temperature up to 195 F. This took about 40 minutes. I held the temperature at 195 for an hour and then shut off the heat and let it cool down. After it was cool enough to handle I squeezed out the excess water and placed it in a white bag and closed it. I let this sit for 36 hours.

Dye: Once again I used snow for water. I heated the water until it was about 150 F. I then added 35 % WOF finely ground madder directly to the pot. I stirred it around until it was as dissolved as it gets, and heated the pot to 180 F. I added the still wet bag and dyed it at 180 F for one hour. Then I shut off the heat and let it cool down until I could handle the fabric. I rinsed the bag in the sink and then put it in my washing machine with a small amount of Ivory liquid soap.

I wanted to felt the bag so I washed it repeatedly in very hot water in the machine with shoes.

And that's it!

I highly recommend purchasing dyes from www.maiwa.com as they send excellent recipes with the dyes.
6:18 pm
Experiments with Madder
I just finished making myself a sweater out of wool that I would like to dye red. In an effort to do some testing, I used my scrap wool to make a purse and then dyed that to see if I could get the color I wanted....and I definately am loving the madder!

Thought I might share :)

Read more...Collapse )

Can't wait until I dye the sweater...
Thursday, February 1st, 2007
7:32 am
Madder and Cochineal?
Just wondering if anyone has used these two together and how well it worked if so? I really want to dye a wool sweater red, but madder can sometimes end up sort of tomato soup red, which is too orangy for my taste.

Any thoughts on getting a nice pure red, one that if it has to go to one side of the color wheel, tends towards blue-red rather than orange-red?
Tuesday, December 26th, 2006
10:36 am
Dyeing Books?
I have a credit to get a book from Christmas and I was thinking of getting a book on dyeing. The two that seem interesting to me are:

The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use by J. N. Liles and
The Craft of Natural Dyeing by Jenny Dean

Has anyone read either of these books? Does anyone know which one is better?

The other book that looked great was "Wild Color" but it is really expensive, so it might have to wait for another time.
Sunday, December 24th, 2006
1:52 pm
A naturally dyed blanket
I just finished a wool blanket I dyed myself! So, I thought I would post a picture, because I really am happy with it.

I dyed the orange with madder and fustic. The blue with indigo. The purple (which was supposed to be grey blue) with logwood, the yellowish one with fustic.

[ << Previous 20 ]
About LiveJournal.com