Plant and natural dyes

Uncoloured yarns waiting for their dyes.

Colouring yarn is a true art and there are many different ways of doing this. The initial way of doing it is however similar for all different methods, also the way that the yarns are prepared.

Some methods can be done over one day for one colour while other colours could take up to four days. Back in time a dye of indigo could last for up to two weeks.

One thing for sure is that natural dyes are the best, this is because they give the yarn a natural and highly and hard to exceed lustre.

To obtain different colours, a number of natural dyes from the plant and animal kingdom are used and described below:

  • BLUE from indigo, a plant of the pea family

  • RED from the root of the madder, kermes (chermes) and cochineal (dried lice).

  • YELLOW from saffron, reseda, vine leaf or pomegranate.

  • GREEN from indigo + vine leaf, pomegranateskins or by mixing blue and yellow.

  • BROWN from walnut shell, oak bark.

  • ORANGE from henna + root ot the madder.

  • BEIGE from walnut shell, pomegranate skin.

  • BLACK from indigo + henna.

Besides these colours you get white, black and grey by using the natural colours of the wool.

After the yarn has been dipped repeatedly in the colourtubs it is taken from there to dry.

Besides these examples, mentioned above, there are other plants that are used to dye yarn:

  • BRAZIL WOOD, a tree grown mainly in Brasil. Used for red, purple and black colours.

  • CATECHU, a tree grown in India and East Africa. Used for brown colours.

  • RHUBARB, a plant with long stalks and large leafs. Used for yellow and copper red colours.

  • YELLOWWOOD, an American tree. As its name indicates it is used for yellow colours.

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