Tag Archives: natural dye

Natural Dyes – Black Bean Dye Recipe

I had heard that it was possible to dye yarns using black beans but have never tried it before so last week when I went grocery shopping I looked for some. I purchased a 500 gram bag of Turtle Black Beans from my local Waitrose grocery store.

I placed all of the beans into a large plastic jar and covered them with ordinary tap water. Overnight, the beans expanded and filled the whole jar, so then I split the bean solution into 2 jars and added more water. I let this bean stock sit on my kitchen counter for 3 days. The water in the jars started to look quite blue so I was hopeful that this would work.
Meanwhile, I spun 100 grams of white wool and divided the wool into 2 50 gram skeins.

Alum Mordant
I mordanted the wool in a 5% solution of alum and water. (5 grams of alum to 100 grams of wool) I left the wool in the hot mordant for about an hour, then I turned off the heat and let the yarn sit in the mordant solution until cool.
I then strained out the dye water from the beans into 2 plastic bowls and placed the skeins of wool into the dye solution. I refilled the bean jars with water, as I am hoping that I will be able to extract more dye from the beans.

Wool in Dye Bath
This is the wool in the black bean dye bath after about 2 hours.

Black Beans Dye
Black Beans Dyepot

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I let the wool sit overnight in the black bean dye bath – pH 5.

Black beans dye
Black Beans Dyepot pH5

I removed the wool from one of the bowls and added some washing soda to the dyebath to change the pH to 9. Then I put the yarn back into the bath. Almost immediately the colour changed to more of a grey-blue shade.

Black beans dyepot
Wool in Black Bean Dye pH9

Black Bean Dye Batch No. 1
On Left – wool dyed with black beans and alum – pH5
On Right – wool dyed with black beans and alum – pH9
The blue wool turned to a greyer shade of blue when the pH was changed to 9 with the addition of washing soda

Wool Dyed with Black Beans
Wool Dyed with Black Beans

I am pleased with the results so far. My only concern is whether they will be very colorfast or will fade in daylight. I will put some into a sunny window for the next month to see if any fading occurs.

Yes, sadly, the beautiful colours faded badly and turned gray.

Natural Dye Recipes
Tin Mordant
Alum Mordant
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Madder dye

During winter months, I tend to dye yarns mostly with acid based dyes because they are quick reacting and simple to work with. Now that it is spring and the sun is shining, I can again do some dye work outside so work more with natural plant dyes. Natural dye baths and mordants require much more time to prepare so I leave dye pots outside to steep and do their thing.

Today I am experimenting with madder root, trying out different temperatures and pH levels to see what happens. Alizarin and Purpurin are the main components of madder. Alizerine (reds)attaches itself to fiber at temperatures around 50 deg C. At higher temperatures > 80 deg C, purpurin (yellows) becomes the predominant dye color. For each dye bath I am dyeing approx 100 grams of fiber, using white Romney fleece and natural grey roving.

I have prepared an alum mordant, using 10 grams of alum and 5 grams of tartaric acid.
For subsequent mordants, I reuse the same mordant bath but add an additional 5 grams of alum. I check the pH level and if this increases above pH 4 I add a bit more tartaric acid.

Madder, like many other natural dye substances, is sensitive to heat and pH levels. At different temperatures or pH, you will get different colors.
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In the first experiment, I used 15 grams of madder root powder, tied up in a nylon stocking.
I put the madder root into a dyebath and brought the temperature to around 40-50 deg C and let it cook for about an hour.
Then I added the scoured and mordanted wool. I let the dyebath simmer for a few hours, keeping the temperature below 50 deg C. I turned off the heat and let the dyebath cool and sit overnight.
I removed the dyed fleece from the dyebath the following day.
madder dye pot
MADDER ROOT DYE
TEMPERATURE: 40-50 DEG C
PH 4
madder root dye

pH Test Meter

A tool that I find invaluable when working with natural dyes is a good quality pH test meter.
Digital PH Meter, 0.01 Resolution Pocket Size Water Quality Tester with ATC 0-14 pH Measurement Range for Household Drinking Water, Aquarium, Swimming Pools, Hydroponics(Upgraded)

madder dyed yarn
Hand spun yarn dyed with madder

More Organic Dye Recipes

Madder Dye Recipe
How to Make an Alum Mordant
How to Make a Tin Mordant
How to Mordant Cotton and Linen
Sandalwood
Osage Orange
Logwood
Mushroom Dyes
Natural Dye Books
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
Natural Dyes
Botanical Colour at your Fingertips
A Weaver’s Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers
Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

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Where to Buy Madder

Madder root natural dye, dye extracts and mordants.

Dyeing Crafts
Wild Colours

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Natural Dyes – Tansy: how_dye_tansy

Tansy flower tops will give a yellow dye.

 

Difficulty Level:

Average

Time Required:

6 hours

Here’s How:

     

  1. Use equal weight of tansy flowers to weight of wool. Cut the flower tops of tansy plants when they are in full bloom.
  2. Chop the tansy flower tops into small pieces and place in a dyepot filled with water.
  3. Simmer the dyepot for 1 – 2 hours. Let it cool and sit overnight.
  4. Add the pre-mordanted clean wool to the dyepot.
  5. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for 2 hours or until sufficient color is reached.
  6. Turn off the heat and let the dyepot cool.
  7. Remove the dyed wool from the dyepot.
  8. Rinse in cool water, and let dry.

Tips:

  • Tansy flower tops can be picked and dried for use later. The color will be a bit different than using fresh blossoms.
  • Try different mordants for different shades of color, such as alum, tin or rhubarb leaves.
  • An alkali solution (ammonia) can shift the colour to an olive brown.
  • The addition of iron can give olive-green shades.

    NMSU Dye Project
    Growing tansy and other natural dye plants.

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes

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  • Natural Dyes – Rhododendron: how_dye_rhododendron

    A recipe for making a natural plant dye using Rhododendron leaves, producing shades of yellow, orange and green depending on the mordants used.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    2 days

    Here’s How:

    1. Premordant wool with alum, tin, blue vitriol or vinegar.
    2. Remove some leaves from the Rhododendron plant. Chop the leaves into small pieces. Soak overnight in cold water.
    3. Heat the dyebath, keeping the temperature below 200 degrees F (95 deg. C). Hotter temperatures can turn fresh leaves to brown or tan colours.
    4. Simmer dyebath for 1 hour.
    5. Add the premordanted wool and simmer for an hour or until sufficient colour is obtained.
    6. Allow the dyebath to cool.
    7. Remove the dyed wool, rinse and let dry.

    Tips:

  • Using different mordants will produce different colours. Alum- yellow, Blue vitriol – gold, Tin – orange, Iron – khaki, olive green, Vinegar – beige.

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate 

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  • Natural Dyes – Kamala: how_dye_kamala

    The powdery coating of the seeds of the Kamala Tree (Mallotus philippinensis), also known as the Monkey Face Tree produces bright yellows and oranges when dyed.

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    6 hours

    Here’s How:

    Measure out the required amount of kamala powder and add it to the warm dyebath.

    I used 15 grams kamala powder for this sample. The kamala powder is difficult to dissolve in the water and will look like it is curdled.

    You will need to add some washing soda to the water to make it alkaline. Add this 1 teaspoon at a time and stir the dyebath. Keep adding additional washing soda until the kamala is completedly dissolved.

    Add the pre-mordanted wool to the dyebath.

    I used 200 grams of wool for this dye sample. Let the wool simmer in the dyebath for about an hour, stirring it occasionally to ensure that the colour is evenly distributed. Turn off the heat and let the dyebath cool before removing the dyed yarn.

    kamala

    Rinse the dyed yarn in cool water with a bit of vinegar. The acidic vinegar will neutralize the effects of the washing soda, leaving the wool soft. If there is still a lot of colour in the dyebath, do not discard it, but use it again in a second dyebath or mix it with other dyes to produce different shades of colour.

    Etsy
    Look for some of this yarn at my shop on Etsy.

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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    Natural Dyes – Hollyhocks: how_dye_hollyhocks

    Hollyhock blossoms produce rust and red natural dye colours. Also mauves, magenta, pinks and tans depending on the colours of the blossoms and mordants used.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    4 hours

    Here’s How:

       

    1. Use fresh blossoms from Hollyhock plants. Remove them from the plants and add them to a dyepot filled with water. Soak the flowers overnight.
    2. Simmer for 1/2 – 1 hour and strain.
    3. Add Glauber’s Salt to the dyebath and mix thoroughly.
    4. Add clean, premordanted wool into the dyepot.
    5. Simmer for x-about an hour or until sufficient colour is obtained.
    6. Allow the dyepot to cool. Then remove the wool and rinse.
    7. Let dry.

     

    Tips:

  • Save the Hollyhock stems for making paper.
  • Use wool premordanted with Alum.
  • Try using Tin, ammonia or Blue Vitriol mordant to obtain different colours. 

    How to Grow Hollyhocks

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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  • Natural Dyes – Dahlia: how_dye_dahlias

    Dahlia blossoms will make yellow, orange and green dye colours. They can be picked fresh, dried or after the first frost.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    1 day

    Here’s How:

       

    1. Pick the blossoms and soak in water overnight.
    2. Fill the dyepot with water, add the dahlias and simmer for about an hour.
      For stronger colour simmer for another hour.
    3. Add clean premordanted wool to the dyepot and simmer for an hour or until sufficient colour is reached.
    4. Allow the dyepot to cool before removing the dyed wool.
    5. Remove the wool from the dyepot, rinse and let dry.

    Tips:

  • You can strain the blossoms from the dyepot before adding the wool, or put the blossoms into a nylon stocking before placing them in the dyepot.
  • Try alum, tin, iron or baking soda mordants to obtain different colours. 

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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  • Natural Dyes – Coreopsis: how_dye_coreopsis

    The blossoms of the Coreopsis produce yellow and orange natural dye colours.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    1 day

    Here’s How:

       

    1. Pick the blossoms of the Coreopsis either fresh or after the first frost.
    2. Soak the flower heads overnight in water.
    3. Boil the flower heads for about an hour in the dyepot.
    4. Add clean, premordanted wool to the dyepot.
    5. Simmer for x-about an hour or until sufficient colour is reached.
    6. Allow the dyepot to cool, then remove the dyed fibre.
    7. Rinse and let dry.

     

    Tips:

  • You can use the flower heads and the stems of the plant to obtain shades of green.
  • Flowers picked after a frost will produce darker and duller colours. 
  • Addition of an alkali afterbath can give you coral or reddish shades.
  • Wild Colours: Coreopsis

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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