natural dyeing


On Sunday afternoon I headed up to Hillswick with one of my best pals Amy to see a Natural Yarn dyeing demonstration and workshop. If you saw how much wool I own (in many,many colours) you would think I have no need to get invigled (Shetland word meaning caught up in something) with natural dyeing and you’d be right but my friends, I’m a sucker for anything wirset related!

colours all possible with Natural Dyes!

I find natural dyeing really interesting but I also always thought it was quite complicated.. so I thought it would be great to see how its done. I spied it on the Hillswick Nature Sanctuary Facebook page so I asked Amy if she’d fancy coming for a look and like me she’s always been interested, so we did! I did a small amount of research into how one prepares yarn for dyeing so I wound some Shetland White Supreme Jumper Weight, 2 ply lace and some White Alpaca I had lying around… (you have no idea..) into hanks and took it up with us.


For our first time experiencing natural dyeing it was suitably ‘natural’, in a pot on a wood burner outside while we dodged into a shed to avoid lovely Shetland torrential rain showers. Bunchy of Spindrift Crafts was the one giving the demonstration and she explained to me and Amy a little about natural dyeing, we used Onion skins because its one of the easiest to use. She explained all about mordanting.. and other slightly complicated things about dyeing your own wool. (I plan on purchasing a book to try and understand it all a bit better..) but very quickly after a slight gas hob cooker explosion situation (no harm done) Me and Amy were preparing our yarn for dyeing!

Me soaking the wool before dyeing
Me soaking the wool before dyeing

IMG_3213it was amazing how quickly the yarn started to change colour! And from what I understand if we pre-mordanted the yarn (making the fibre very absorbent to the colours) they would be even brighter but for our first go we were pleased!

Amy putting some yarn into the dye bath


When I got home I rinsed the hanks under the tap and hung them up in the shower to dry.. there was a bit of an oniony smell so I’m glad Bunchy told me to rinse them.. a little bit of the colour did come out but I’m pleased with the finished wool! now to find something to make with it..


This is all the Supreme Jumper Weight hanks we dyed, the one on the left was dyed the least amount of time with the one on the right being in the longest


the 2ply Lace took on quite a nice orangey tan colour


and the Alpaca, i think because it was more of a dark creamy colour originally it went a bit darker, its lovely!


A splendid way to spend a Sunday!

speak soon! xx

16 thoughts on “natural dyeing

  1. AH YES, you are on the way down the slippery slope now :) Natural dying is way fun, can be pretty stinky too so it is nice to be able to do this outside, torrential rains notwithstanding!! Your colours are lovely, good job. Have fun and there are No bad colours!!

  2. Natural Dyeing is great. I spent the weekend doing the same but in Cheshire- and dodging showers- to get colours for my wool week hat version two! I’ve knitted a practise to work out the amounts in J & S wool! So now I’ve dyed my handspun J & S fleece the colours of seaweed from Skaw beach, just to knit the hat again, will try & sort some photos tomorrow. Label your skeins and keep them as your first dyed ones as you’ll soon have an increasing collection.

  3. What fun is this??!! It continues to amaze me that all our original colors were dyed in this way by family members many, many years ago.

  4. What a good way to spend a Sunday. A friend of mine does lovely natural dyeing with geranium (pelargonium) leaves. The shingle on that beach is gorgeous, such lovely colours. (Inveigle isn’t just a Shetland word, it’s used down here too, though I did have to check in the dictionary to see where it came from, Anglo Norman French apparently).

    How long before you have your own dye garden?

  5. What a great place to get out and do some natural dyeing. I have plans to experiment with the indigenous eucalypts when we next go camping. It’s almost like a brewing up a bit o’witchcraft!

  6. oh gosh….so many blog people are doing this…..and i’m such a copycat. I’ve bought a couple books but so far have refrained from buying yarn to dye. I love the subtle colors created…..yours are just gorgeous. what did you use for a mordant? (hee hee—have you planned your dye garden, yet?)

  7. Natural dyeing is a field of knowledge all to itself. It’s fascinating and can be all consuming. Go for it!

      1. Thank you, I really like your blog. You take amazing photographs. It looks like you are living in the most beautiful place on earth. I’m glad I found my way here. :)

  8. Oh My! may I please have those stones you’re working around?!! The colors are beautiful, how many people have turned them into jewelry?!

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