Finding Colour in Nature

Harnessing Nature's Colours

four photos showing the steps of dyeing goldenrod
These photos show a progression of colour harvested locally from goldenrod flowers to create naturally dyed yarn.  These bloom abundantly in unoccupied lands in the fall here in Ontario.  We harvest a small portion of the flowers available, leaving lots for the local wildlife.  The flowers are then simmered and strained to create gorgeous natural colour.  We then simmer the skeins, rinse, hang them to dry, then wash, rinse and dry them.
The excitement that comes from simmering a pot of found material, and discovering the colour that it creates is addictive!

Where the Colour Comes From

We gather some of our material locally, like goldenrod and mint.  Other dye material, like avocado and onion skins, are cooking byproducts.  We also purchase dyes as raw materials or extracts.  These are typically materials that are not available locally such as logwood and cochineal.

The Natural Dye Process

The process of natural dyeing is labour-intensive.  We wash all yarns and fibres thoroughly before we add any colour.  Then, for most dyes, we treat the yarns and fibres with a mordant solution which helps the dye bind to the fibre.

We then prepare the dye material.  Sometimes this might involve soaking it for weeks, and then simmering and straining it.  In other cases, the dye material needs less time soaking or can just be added to the dye bath.

Often we can reuse dye baths, creating lighter colours each time.  We will do this to create different shades and to be as respectful as possible to the environment. Sometimes we combine dye baths for unique shades.

In some cases, after dyeing, we apply iron to shift the colour.  This can change yellow to green, and can bring grey tones in to browns and purples.

We then rinse the yarn, dry it, set it aside to allow the colour to bond, then wash it and dry it again.  

What You Should Know About Naturally Dyed Products

With naturally dyed products, there may be some colour softening or shifting over time, especially with exposure to sunlight.

Naturally dyed yarns are unique.  No two are the same, even if they come from the same dyepot.  We highly recommend alternating skeins to avoid colour pooling.

If you need multiple skeins for a project and we don't have enough, please reach out and we will do our best to accommodate.

If you have any questions, please let us know!