Monday, October 15, 2012

shades of summer

Here are my final dye experiments for this summer
I've cheated a bit, because I placed the dye vats next to the wood burner this last couple of weeks
to keep them fermenting.
Which works fine :)

The yarn is Poll Dorset from Renaissance Dyeing

Here's another photo. The exact colours are difficult to capture, they look more like this.
from left to right - dyed with:
 Brambles (Rubus fructicosus) - Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) - St Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Madder (Rubia tinctorum) - Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) :basic vat  - Elderberries :acidic vat 


the yellow Irisses were harvested in my own garden. They grow in abundance close to the river
I would never take the wild ones as they are quite rare
and they were replanted after taking away only a part of the root

sliced roots Iris pseudacorus

The roots hold a reddish colour which apparently gives a bluish grey dye 
with promises of more blues or maybe even some purples, if I had used more roots
I'm definitely going to try it again next year !

My conclusion is that the colours you get with the fermentation method are quite different from the bright colours of the synthetic dyes, much softer, but they are what I would like to call "vibrantly alive" and frankly I prefer these soft tones to the ones we are so used to see on clothing and yarn these days.

And, once you get used to work with these natural colours, it's not easy to return to the synthetic colours again. 
Well, I won't, anyway !

I think I will make a crochet wrap or maybe a cardigan, with these six colours



  1. WOW!! I love the colours you achieved, Marylene. They are absolutely gorgeous, and go beautifully together.
    I too love the soft natural colours :)

    It was interesting to read about dyeing with iris root, which I knew nothing about. This yellow iris grows wild here, and I also have it in my garden. Next summer I will definately try dyeing with it too. The blue-greyish colour is just lovely.

    Can't wait to see what you make from your yarn :)

  2. Thank you Hilde,
    I suggest you harvest the Iris roots now, as Fall is the best season, the roots give the best colours now. Just place them in a sealed container with some water, in a not too cold spot, till next Spring.
    To get this blue-grey I only used a basic-alkali vat and no acid vat at all.
    But next year I will do some more experiments.

  3. You'll be making something gorgeous with that, I'll bet! The pinkish colour from the elderberries is very pretty. The iris root is pretty amazing looking stuff. I agree about the quality of the colours. Synthetic dyes don't compare.

    1. Yes Kate, I also love the pinkish shade. And the colour seems to be fast, although, usually Elderberries dyes are given a poor fastness rating. I guess we'll just have to wait and see ;)

  4. Hi! I recently wrote a question about fermenting for cotton and linen. I am writing a booklet about the actors in this area in France and Belgium. Would you agree to be interviewed? If yes, where exactly are you in Brittany? Thanks (could we go on privately via my email

    1. Dear Anonymus,
      I'm no expert, just a experimentalist :)
      Everything I know about this subject is on this blog
      so I don't see the need to be "interviewed"
      and also I guess every dyer has his own little secrets
      but feel free to mention this blog in your booklet

  5. Hoi Marylene,
    Wat heb je een prachtige kleuren gemaakt. Zo mooi zacht. Ik heb 2 ruwe schapenvachten, een spinnewiel en het één en ander aan verfplanten in de tuin. Ik hoop dat het me ooit lukt om mijn wol in zulke mooie kleuren om te toveren.....

    1. dankjewel Mariëtte,
      Het experimenteren met wilde of eigen tuinplanten is een heel boeiende en magische bezigheid. Of je er nu iets eetbaars uit haalt, iets geneeskrachtig, er iets creatiefs mee maakt of iets kleurrijks... het zorgt voor een verbondenheid mat de natuur, waar je alleen maar MEER mens van wordt en is dat nu net wat wij allen zo brood-nodig hebben. Eenheid is het sleutelwoord :)
      Ik wens je veel succes met je toverwerk...

  6. I love the result, I wish my experience was as good as yours.

  7. Via, via kwam ik op jouw blog terecht. Je maakt prachtige dingen. Jouw contact met de natuur is mooi om te lezen.