Category Archives: DYES

How-to information and supplies for the home dyer.

Madder Root Dye

Madder Root Dye Recipe for Linen, Cotton and Cellulose Fibres

All cellulose fibres, yarns and fabrics must be scoured prior to mordanting or dyeing. Please see my previous article on how to do this.
How to Scour Linen

For these samples, I used several different linen and cotton fabrics as well as wool yarn.

Linen and Cotton Fabric Samples
Linen and Cotton Fabric Samples

Unbleached Cotton
Bleached Linen
Linen/Cotton Blend
Natural Linen (light weight)
Natural Linen (heavy weight)

Madder Root Dye Recipe
for 100 grams of fibre
20 grams Indian Madder Root powder – Rubia Cordifolia
Put Madder Root dye powder into dye pot.
Let simmer in dyepot for +1 hour at 50 deg.
Add pre-mordanted wool yarn and sample fabrics.
Let simmer in dyepot for +1 hour.
Remove the wool yarn. Let this cool and rinse thoroughly to remove the excess dye powder.
Turn the heat off the dyepot and leave the linen and cotton samples to soak overnight. More colour will continue to develop as the dyebath cools.

Indian Madder on Linen and Cotton
Indian Madder on Linen and Cotton

Himalayan Rhubarb Plant Dye
Eucalyptus Leaf Plant Dye
Brazilwood Plant Dye

Paivatar – Plant Dyed Wool Yarns
Look for some of my plant dyed yarns at my PaivatarYarn Shop on Etsy.

Plant Dyed Wool Yarn
Plant Dyed Wool Yarn

Natural Dyes
Anne Georges
Wild Colours

Natural Dye Books

Indigo from Seed to Dye

Indigo: Dye It, Make It: Techniques from plain and dip-dyeing to tie-dyeing and batik, in natural indigo blue

Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes

The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use

Dyes and Mordants on Ebay

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How to Scour and Mordant Cotton and Linen

The secret to successful natural dyeing of cellulose fibres, yarns and fabrics such as cotton and linen is thorough scouring. The scouring process removes natural oils, waxes and pectins from the fibre so that the dyes can penetrate the fibre more readily. Scouring and mordanting cellulose fibres is a more time consuming process than when mordanting wool and protein fibres. But it is well worth taking the extra time to prepare your fabric before you put it into the dyepot.

Here is a sample of natural brown linen fabric that has been dyed with Madder Root. One has been scoured prior to Aluminium Acetate mordant and Madder dye, and one hasn’t.

Scoured and Unscoured Dyed Linen Sample
Scoured and Unscoured Dyed Linen Sample

How to Scour Linen and Cotton
Weigh out the fabric or yarn you wish to scour.
For 100 grams of fabric I use:
10 grams Soda Ash
3 grams Carbolic Soap
Add this to water and mix.
Add the yarn or fabric.
Bring to a boil and let it simmer +2 to 3 hours.

The water will become brown as the waxes and oils are released from the fabric.
Even a bleached white linen will give you water that looks murky.
Let the fabric cool and then remove it from the scouring soak.
Rinse the fabric thoroughly.

Scour Linen and Cotton
Scour Linen and Cotton

As the Soda Ash has a high pH, the fabric needs to be soaked in an acidic vinegar solution to return the pH back to neutral. Plant dyes are sensitive to different pH levels and this can affect the final colour, so changes in pH during the mordanting process must be neutralized before dyeing the fabric.

Mordant for Cotton and Linen
To mordant cellulose fibres I use Aluminium Acetate
To mordant 100 grams of fabric,
Mix 5 grams aluminium acetate into a bowl or plastic bucket of hot tap water.
Stir until dissolved.
Add the scoured and rinsed fabric or yarn.
Let this soak for + 1 hour.

The yarn or fabric can then be removed from the mordant solution and allowed to dry, or it is ready to use as is.

Where to purchase Aluminium Acetate (in UK)
Wild Colours
George Weil

More about Plant Dyed Yarns
Madder Root Dye Recipe
Brazilwood Dye Recipe
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye
Himalayan Rhubarb Dye

Paivatar – Plant Dyed Wool Yarns

Look for some of my plant dyed yarns at my PaivatarYarn Shop on Etsy.

Plant Dyed Wool Yarn
Plant Dyed Wool Yarn

Natural Dye Books

Indigo from Seed to Dye

Indigo: Dye It, Make It: Techniques from plain and dip-dyeing to tie-dyeing and batik, in natural indigo blue

Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes

The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use

Dyes and Mordants on Ebay

Alum - Potassium Aluminum Sulfate - Mordant - Potash Alum - 4 oz

$5.25
End Date: Friday Dec-13-2019 21:06:54 PST
Buy It Now for only: $5.25
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Natural Mordant for Natural Dyeing

$10.98
End Date: Thursday Nov-28-2019 9:28:16 PST
Buy It Now for only: $10.98
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Alum - Potassium Aluminum Sulfate - Mordant - Potash Alum - 2 oz - FREE SHIPPING

$6.25
End Date: Saturday Nov-30-2019 16:41:03 PST
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Spin Flora Dot Com

When I was asked by the AGWSD to teach a workshop on spinning flax this coming summer at their Summer School, I started to do some research on spinning with plant fibres. Never did I expect to fall down such a large rabbit hole! I started by ordering a few small sample packs of different flora fibres, flax, hemp, ramie and a few of the new plant-based fibres such as banana and seacell that have recently come onto the market. I fell in love with the variety and the textures that these plants have to offer. Spinning flora took over in my studio. As I used up my plastic crates filled with wool, they quickly filled up again with a delightful assortment of flora fibres.

Spin and Weave Flora
Spin and Weave Flora

I generally like to use acid dyes for dyeing wools and silk, but of course, the acid dyes won’t work on cellulose fibres. So I decided that really – plants should be dyed with plants. I rummaged through my dye stash and found a supply of madder root, indigo, osage, and other natural dyestuffs. And began to experiment.

Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Vat

Each of the fibres have their own unique characteristics. Some are soft and slippery, some feel like the finest of silk, some are a bit rough and coarse. They all need to be spun with a slightly different spinning technique. They can also be blended with each other or with wool. Handspinning with flora fibres are also a lovely alternative for those who are allergic to wool or who prefer not to use animal fibres.

Spin Flora grew and it was time for it to have its own website – a place where you can explore this world of Flora and also purchase a few samples of your own to experiment with.
I hope that you will visit Spin Flora not Fauna

Fungi Dye: Pisolithus arhizus

Pisolithus arhizus Mushroom Dye

isolithus arhizus – Brown, gold
Also known as the Dyeball
FI – Hernekuukunen

Pisolithus Arhizus Fungi Dyed Yarn
Pisolithus Arhizus Fungi Dyed Yarn

Alum Mordant

3 litres water
25 grams alum
10 grams cream of Tartar
Bring to boil and then let cool
100 gram wool yarn tied in skeins
Rinse the clean washed yarn in cool water
Add the yarn into the cool mordant bath and bring it to 80-90 C degrees
Simmer for 1 hour
Remove and let cool

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Fungi Dye Bath

If using dried mushrooms soak them in water for a few hours until soft.
100 grams dried mushrooms
5 litres water
Bring to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours

Let dyebath cool
Strain the liquid and store the cooked mushrooms. They can be used again in an afterbath
Add mordanted yarn to strained dyebath liquid

Add mordanted yarn to dyebath
Return to heat and simmer for 1 hour at 80-90 degrees Celsius or longer for stronger colour.
Remove from heat source and let cool
Rinse in water that is of similar temperature as dyebath to avoid shocking the yarn and causing felting to occur.

How to Make an Alum Mordant
How to Scour and Mordant Cotton and Linen
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Fungi Dye: Phaeolus schweinitzii

Phaeolus schweinitzii – Mushroom Dyes
Karhunkaapa (FI)

Phaeolus schweinitzii – Yellow, gold

Phaeolus schweinitzii  Fungi dyed Yarn
Phaeolus schweinitzii Fungi dyed Yarn

Alum Mordant

3 litres water
25 grams alum
10 grams cream of Tartar
Bring to boil and then let cool
100 gram wool yarn tied in skeins
Rinse the clean washed yarn in cool water
Add the yarn into the cool mordant bath and bring it to 80-90 C degrees
Simmer for 1 hour
Remove and let cool

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Fungi Dye Bath

If using dried mushrooms soak them in water for a few hours until soft.
300 grams dried mushrooms
5 litres water
Bring to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours

Let dyebath cool
Strain the liquid and store the cooked mushrooms. They can be used again in an afterbath
Add mordanted yarn to strained dyebath liquid

Add mordanted yarn to dyebath
Return to heat and simmer for 1 hour at 80-90 degrees Celsius or longer for stronger colour.
Remove from heat source and let cool
Rinse in water that is of similar temperature as dyebath to avoid shocking the yarn and causing felting to occur.

Mordants
How to Make an Alum Mordant
How to Scour and Mordant Cotton and Linen

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Mushroom Dyeing
A New England and Eastern Canada Edible and Medicinal Mushroom Resource
Mosswalks Blogspot
Basket dyed with Phaeolus schweinitzii “dyers polypore”
California Fungi: Phaeolus schweinitzii
Root Diseases: Chweinitzii Butt Rot
This fungus is considered to be a tree disease in British Columbia
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Fungi Dye: Boletopsis Grisea

Boletopsis grisea Mushroom Dye

FI – Sudenkaapa
SW -tallgraticka

Boletopsis grisea Fungi Dyed Yarn
Boletopsis grisea Fungi Dyed Yarn

Alum Mordant
3 litres water
25 grams alum
10 grams cream of Tartar
Bring to boil and then let cool
100 gram wool yarn tied in skeins
Rinse the clean washed yarn in cool water
Add the yarn into the cool mordant bath and bring it to 80-90 C degrees
Simmer for 1 hour
Remove and let cool

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Fungi Dye Bath

If using dried mushrooms soak them in water for a few hours until soft.
200 grams dried mushrooms
5 litres water
Bring to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours

Let dyebath cool
Strain the liquid and store the cooked mushrooms. They can be used again in an afterbath
Add mordanted yarn to strained dyebath liquid

Add mordanted yarn to dyebath
Return to heat and simmer for 1 hour at 80-90 degrees Celsius or longer for stronger colour.
Remove from heat source and let cool
Rinse in water that is of similar temperature as dyebath to avoid shocking the yarn and causing felting to occur.

Mordants
How to Make an Alum Mordant
How to Scour and Mordant Cotton and Linen

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Fungi Dye: Hapolopilus Rutilans

Hapilopilus rutilans Mushroom Dye
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Hapalopilus rutilans
FI: Okrakaapa
SW: lysticka

Hapalopilus Rutilans Fungi Dyed Yarn
Hapalopilus Rutilans Fungi Dyed Yarn

Alum Mordant

3 litres water
25 grams alum
10 grams cream of Tartar
Bring to boil and then let cool
100 gram wool yarn tied in skein
Rinse the clean washed yarn in cool water
Add the yarn into the cool mordant bath and bring it to 80-90 C degrees
Simmer for 1 hour
Remove and let cool

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Fungi Dye Bath

Cut the mushroom into small pieces with a knife
50 grams dried mushrooms
5 litres wate
Bring to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours
Let dyebath cool
Strain the liquid and store the cooked mushrooms. They can be used again in an afterbath
Add mordanted yarn to strained dyebath liquid
Return to heat and simmer for 1 hour at 80-90 degrees Celsius
Remove the yarn from the dyebath
Add 50 ML ammonia to the dyebath
When using ammonia take precautions and wear protective gloves
Also avoid getting too close to the dyebath and breathing in the fumes

Test with litmus paper or a digital pH tester
The dyebath should be about 7 pH
Stir well
Add the yarn back into the dyebath
It should change colour to a violet or reddish shade
Let simmer for about another hour
In our sample dyebath we had problems keeping the pH level at around 7. So we had to remove the yarn a few times and add more ammonia
Remove from heat source and let cool
Rinse in water that is of similar temperature as dyebath to avoid shocking the yarn and causing felting to occur.

Mordants
How to Make an Alum Mordant
How to Scour and Mordant Cotton and Linen

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Indigo Fructose Dye Vat

There are many ways to prepare an indigo vat, some use soda ash and spectralite, some use some use sulphuric acid, some use iron and some urine. For this indigo vat, I am using a fructose base. You can also use ageing fruit instead of fructose sugar.

The fructose indigo vat was developed by Michel Garcia. The addition of the fructose sugar acts as a reducing agent to the Indigo. The sugar removes one of the oxygen molecules from the indigo making it soluble in water.
The addition of the Calcium Hydroxide (slaked or hydrated lime) changes the pH from an acid to a base. The proper pH to get good colour on wool should be about +9 and for cotton and cellulose +10.

When the yarn or fabric is dipped into the indigo dye vat, it turns a green colour. When the yarn is raised into the air, the oxygen molecules from the air, bind with the indigo and turn the green into blue. To get darker and more intense blues, the yarn needs to be dipped into the indigo vat and raised into the air to oxidize several times. The colour builds up onto the yarn or cloth in layers. Keep dipping and airing out the yarn until the desired level of colour is achieved.

An Indigo vat can be re-used and kept alive for several weeks until all of the indigo has been exhausted.
If the Vat still has indigo but has turned blue, reheat the Vat to 50 deg C. Check the pH. Add about a teaspoon of fructose crystals and wait 15-30 minutes.
The Vat should turn green. If it is still blue add some Calcium Hydroxide. pH should be +9 for wool, or +10 for cellulose.

The Fructose Indigo Vat uses a 1-2-3 ratio of substances.
1 part Indigo
2 parts Calcium Hydroxide
3 parts Fructose

I purchased some Tamil Nadu Indigo from Wild Colours.
I decided to make a starter indigo vat using 25 grams of Indigo. In theory, 25 grams of Indigo will dye about 1 kg of fibre. This will vary depending on the strength and depth of colour that you produce, and the Vat can be kept alive by checking pH and adding more Calcium Hydroxide or Fructose as needed.

I put about 200 ml of hot water into a large Kilner jar and added the Indigo powder. I stirred this until the indigo was dissolved.

Indigo Fructose Dye Starter Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Starter Vat

I then added more warm water to fill the jar almost to the top.

I measured out 50 grams of Calcium Hydroxide
and 75 grams of Fructose.

Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Vat

I added the Fructose into the Indigo mixture and stirred until it was dissolved.
Then I slowly added about half of the Calcium Hydroxide, trying not to introduce air bubbles into the mix.

The Indigo starter needs to be kept warm while it reacts, so I placed the Kilner jar into a slow cooker filled with warm water. I left it on a low setting and gently stirred the jar about every 20-30 minutes.

Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Vat

After about 3 hours, a bronze film had developed on top of the water, and the indigo bath had turned green.

Indigo Fructose Vat
Indigo Fructose Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Indigo Fructose Dye Vat

I let this starter vat sit overnight and kept it warm by wrapping a towel around it.

The following day the Indigo starter had separated into several lovely layers.

Indigo Vat Layers
Indigo Vat Layers

I put 10 litres of hot tap water (50 Deg Celcius) into a large plastic pail.
I carefully lowered and submerged the jar of Indigo starter into the pail. I gently tipped the jar to pour out the indigo taking care not to introduce extra air into the water.

Indigo Fructose Vat
Indigo Fructose Vat

I gave the Vat a gentle stir and let it sit beside the warm radiator. More patient waiting…

A few hours later:
Indigo Fructose Vat: pH +11.2 Temp 30 deg C.
The Indigo Vat looked like it was ready to go.
A coppery finish had formed across the top and the dye water looked green.

I tested a few wool yarn samples and dipped them into the Vat. They came out green, but quickly turned to blue in the air.

Indigo Fructose Dye Vat Sample No. 1
For my first real test piece I dipped in a skein of handspun bleached flax. I dipped the skein into the Vat, pulling it out after about a minute and let it air for about a minute. I repeated the dipping 5 times and got quite a dark blue that I was happy with.

Handspun Flax
60 gram skein 160 m
approx. 260 m/100 gr

Handspun Bleached Flax
Handspun Bleached Flax
Handspun Flax in Indigo Vat
Handspun Flax in Indigo Vat

Indigo Fructose Vat Dye Sample No. 2

I tied a silk scarf with some marbles and elastics, creating a Shibori type of effect.
I dipped the scarf (dry) into the Vat, swirled it around and pulled it out to air for about a minute. I repeated the dipping 5 times.

Silk Scarf dyed with Indigo
Silk Scarf dyed with Indigo
Silk Scarf dyed with Indigo
Silk Scarf dyed with Indigo

First set of samples drying outside.

Flax and Silk dyed with Indigo
Flax and Silk dyed with Indigo

After you have finished dyeing your pieces, rinse them thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear. Add a bit of vinegar to the final rinse, to neutralize the high pH of the yarn or fabric, as this can be damaging to your yarn if it is left.

Indigo Shibori Silk Scarf

Indigo Dyed Silk Scarf and Linen Yarn
Indigo Dyed Silk Scarf and Linen Yarn

I put a lid onto the Vat and have it placed near a radiator to help keep it warm. There is still LOTS of colour left in the Vat – I will try dyeing something else in a few days.

NOTE:
Calcium Hydroxide is very corrosive and can cause serious eye and skin damage. Wear protective goggles and gloves when working with chemicals.

Indigo Dye Vat – Project #3

Tsukidashi Kanoko Shibori Linen Shawl

Tsukidashi Shibori Linen Shawl
Tsukidashi Shibori Linen Shawl

Indigo Dye Vat – Project #4

Hishakinui Shibori Cotton

Hishakinui Shibori
Hishakinui Shibori

Indigo Dye Vat – Project #5

Hitta Miura Shibori Linen Shawl

Hitta Miura Shibori Linen Shawl
Hitta Miura Shibori Linen Shawl

Indigo Dye Vat – Project #6
Madder Root/ Indigo Habotai Silk Scarf

Indigo Madder Root Silk Scarf
Indigo Madder Root Silk Scarf

Indigo and Shibori Dye Books

Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing

Shibori Designs & Techniques

Shibori for Textile Artists

Shibori: The Art of Fabric Folding, Pleating and Dyeing

The Weaver’s Studio – Woven Shibori: Revised and Updated

YouTube Indigo Dyes

Resources
Natural Dye Workshop
Maiwa – Natural Dyes Indigo Fruit Vat
Indigo Natural Fermentation Vat
Riihivilla – Indigo Fructose Vat
George Weil – Indigo Yeast Sugar Vat
Graham Keegan – Indigo Vat Basics
Wearing Woad – Natural Indigo Dye Vat Troubleshooting
Julie Ryder Textiles – Indigo Blues
Jenny Dean – Indigo Fructose Lime Vat
Spin Flora – My Ferrous Indigo Vat

Dyes and Mordants on Ebay

Alum - Potassium Aluminum Sulfate - Mordant - Potash Alum - 4 oz

$5.25
End Date: Friday Dec-13-2019 21:06:54 PST
Buy It Now for only: $5.25
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Natural Mordant for Natural Dyeing

$10.98
End Date: Thursday Nov-28-2019 9:28:16 PST
Buy It Now for only: $10.98
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Alum - Potassium Aluminum Sulfate - Mordant - Potash Alum - 2 oz - FREE SHIPPING

$6.25
End Date: Saturday Nov-30-2019 16:41:03 PST
Buy It Now for only: $6.25
Buy It Now | Add to watch list