Category archives: Natural Dye Plants

Information on natural dye plants from Europe and abroad.


Written by [email protected] on Sept. 13, 2014 in Natural Dye Plants

I haven't quite got used to the fact that the harvest is ready earlier here in the south of France, even in the most mountainous department. Back in England one waited until the first frost had visited the sloe berries before picking them. Here you have to get in there in early September or they are gone.

I was worried that I was too late, the berries are small and some are beginning to shrivel, their bloom gone, washed off by the summer of rain, dried by the fierce September sun. Then I realise that they are drying like ...

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Solar Dyeing

Written by [email protected] on June 9, 2014 in Dye House News, Natural Dye Plants

There are many differnt ways of solar dyeing. Here is my particular Whit Sunday version:

Il ya plusieurs façons de teinture solaire. Voici ma version particulière de la Pentecôte:

Indulge in a vide greniers or car-boot sale. There you will find that the world is indeed full of many tongues and that it is communicative, kind and friendly.

Offrez-vous une vide greniers. Il vous verrez que le monde est en effet pleine de nombreuses langues et qu'il est communicatif, chaleureux et sympathique.

Beetle home with your chosen bottling jars, these are 1.5l. The rubber seals are important as ...

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Happenings around the Dye House

Written by [email protected] on May 8, 2012 in Dye House News, Natural Dye Plants

Just to give you a peek of what is going on in the dyehouse.

There are three things on-going at the moment - dyeing for the new 10 coloured Shawlette from Cécile Balladino aka Eclectic Gipsyland; dyeing of some turkey-work wool for a project that has spanned 5 years for the Merchant's House in Marlborough, England and the endless job of keeping the crewel wool stock at a level that doesn't cause panic. Lampion is one of the Poll Dorset shades that will go into Cécile's new crochet shawl, this is made, among other things, with onion skins ...

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A Look at the Natural Dye Garden in May

Written by [email protected] on May 16, 2011 in Natural Dye Plants

A quick look at the dye garden on a dry May day. It hasn't rained here for weeks. The Cosmos and Coreopsis are waiting to be planted out, they are big enough already but with no rain in sight. I don't want to risk losing them.

The mass of fluffy foliage in the image below is the two woad plants I left to go to seed when I took the rest out earlier in the spring, the yellow flowers are almost gone and the tear-drop seeds are still this light fresh green that would look spectacular on a ...

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Plant dyeing with madder compost

Written by [email protected] on Nov. 26, 2009 in Natural Dye Plants

The sock yarn below was dyed not exactly on a compost heap but in buckets of left over dye stuffs that were left in the sun for a few weeks.

It was a continuation of the use of the home-grown madder written about in the previous article Madder and Madder.

The madder in question had already been used to dye over one and a half times its weight, however because the madder was quite coarsely chopped I could see both from the wool dyed and the madder that was left over that the red pigments had not yet been fully ...

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More about home grown madder

Written by [email protected] on Nov. 11, 2009 in Dye House News, Natural Dye Plants

Lots of you have asked how I would process the madder harvested last year.

Well, it has dried very well, hanging in my neighbours' barn and was only brought inside just as the cyclone arrived last January. I wasn't going to risk my madder being blown away! It had dried so well that it was possible to snap it into smaller pieces, but not small enough.

Dried Madder

I have saved this home grown madder for this Autumn's sock collection not only because I have heard that madder needs to mature for a year but also I thought that Jan ...

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Natural dyeing yellows and browns with onion skins

Written by [email protected] on Aug. 27, 2009 in Natural Dye Plants

The humble onion skin can be very versatile when it comes to natural dyeing, producing with a good alum mordant and modifiers a wide range of yellows, oranges and browns.

Living in France, it is easy to collect onion skins with the help of my neighbours, I have a good supply of organic onion skins to keep me going all year round. I just keep them in a paper sack in a dry place until needed.

Hanks Dyed with Onion Skins

I have heard it said that if the onion skins are kept too long they don't dye so well, but I haven't ...

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Harvesting the Madder in the Natural Dye Garden

Written by [email protected] on Nov. 26, 2008 in Natural Dye Plants

After four years of tending and weeding, the time has finally arrived to harvest the first madder root from the dye garden. Due to the wet autumn it has been difficult to judge the right time to harvest, as the foliage is still green and there are new root shoots. However the arrival of my brother-in-law on holiday heralded that the time was ripe, and with his help we harvested the madder patch.

Madder roots

Each day we dug out a few kilos of madder roots and he washed them before drying. As the week went on he perfected a washing method ...

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Weld for Natural Dyeing

Written by [email protected] on May 25, 2008 in Natural Dye Plants

The first weld plants are beginning to ripen. Here is a picture of some hanging up to dry.

Weld Drying

Weld is the plant on the right, the other is flax for linen thread. Flax is growing like a weed in the hay pastures this year, where last year there was none. The shutter by the way is painted with woad.

The weld plant is ready for harvest just before the flower shoot really gets going. Here the buds are still tight and the plant is still relatively compact, if left to grow they would probably have shot another foot or so ...

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Madder Plants in our natural dye garden

Written by [email protected] on March 24, 2007 in Natural Dye Plants

This madder is only a few months old, in 2-3 years it will have covered all the ground and the roots will be ready to harvest that Autumn.

Madder seems to grow well in this area of France, where the summers are hot but not too dry. There has been a recent attempt to grow it in Provence which was abandoned, I think because of lack of water.

Madder Plants

However in Holland where madder was grown traditionally, a new company was launched last month called Rubia. If you are looking for madder extract it is worth looking at their site.

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