Skip to content

Natural Dyeing.






As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been gathering supplies for awhile to try out natural dyeing! As you can see above, my first attempt was pretty successful.

I dyed 10 mini skeins in total (20g, about 40-50 yards each). I mordanted all 10 skeins using alum and cream of tartar (7g of alum and 6g of cream of tartar per 100g of yarn) by simmering them in a big pot for 1 hour.

I dyed 5 of the skeins in simmering dye baths for 1 hour, using dyes made from onion skins, turmeric, frozen spinach, avocado pits (smashed open) and black beans (soaked for 12 hours). For the remaining 5 skeins, I drained off the leftover dye from each pot into jars and put one skein into each jar. I let them sit for 72 hours and they’re drying now.

Fortunately, the skeins dyed in a hot dye bath are well dried, so you can see the colours! I love the bright yellows from the turmeric and onion skins, and pink from avocado is so unexpected. The only dye that didn’t really take was the spinach- I think perhaps vegetable dyes might take better to fibre mordanted in vinegar. Maybe I’ll give it a shot, although I’ve heard it makes your house smell awful.

If you’d like to give it a try, here are a few of my favourite resources:
Liesl’s posts on natural dyeing
The Modern Farmer guide to natural dyeing
Kate’s very instructive post on dyeing
Kate’s tumblr posts of her dyeing experiments
Cécile’s natural dyeing posts

Have you ever dyed yarn? What are your favourite natural dyes?


  1. Woah, they came out great! I really love the deep, sunshiney yellow. Is that the turmeric? And I’m kind of partial to the gray from the black beans. I definitely to try this out for myself. I’ll have to wait till the end of the semester to get things together, probably.

    P.S. I don’t think I’m heading to knit wits tonight. Too cold and I’m too tired this week. I’ll see you next week for the big Knit Night!

    • kyliemw kyliemw

      Thanks Brandy!
      Yeah, the bright yellow is the turmeric. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try… I’m already planning my next experiment.
      Thanks for the heads up… I missed tonight’s gathering too. Definitely see you next week though.

  2. Lovely colors! I’ve done a bit of experimenting with natural dyes, and so far I’ve used goldenrod (beautiful lighter yellow color), biden/tickseed sunflower (pretty muted orange), staghorn sumac (brown, but turned gray with an iron afterbath), and fennel (it was supposed to be green but I didn’t have enough for any color to really show up!). My favorites so far are definitely goldenrod and biden, but I’m hoping to try more this year.

    • kyliemw kyliemw

      Thanks Kristen!
      There seem to be a plethora of lovely natural yellows… I’ll have to give goldenrod a try this summer, there’s always loads of it around my parents’ house.

  3. lea lea

    this is SO cool! love the bright yellow and grey! I might have clicked on all those links 😉

  4. That’s awesome! I’ve never dyed yarn, although I’d really love to try!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *