Logwood Dye

Every few days, I am experimenting with a different natural plant dye, to see what colours it creates. The colours and shades that you can get vary a lot, depending on the acidity of the water, the mordant you use, the strength of the dye stock and the type of material you are dyeing.

Logwood or Haematoxylon Campechianum comes from the heartwood of the logwood trees that grow in Mexico and Central and South America. Logwood can produce rich deep aubergine purples, dusky blues, soft lilacs and greys and silver tones. Logwood is not extremely colourfast, so a bit of care needs to be used in selecting the final final end use. Choose to make items that won’t get a lot of sun exposure.

I made a Logwood dyebath using 30 grams of Logwood powder. I let the dyebath simmer on medium heat for a few hours, not letting the bath reach boiling point.
I added pre-mordanted fabric to the dyepot and let that simmer for a few hours.

Logwood Dyed Cotton Market Tote Bag

Logwood Plant Dyed Cotton Tote Bag

Logwood Dyed Cotton Batiste Scarf

Shibori Logwood Dyed Cotton Scarf

The scarf is made from Cotton Batiste with hand rolled hems. The scarves are completely made by hand in India, mostly by women, who are paid a higher salary than most due to the craftwork involved. No exploitation, no child labour, great quality.
The scarf has been decorated with a traditional Shibori resist dye technique. This scarf uses a Hitta Miura style of design where small areas of the fabric are hand knotted and then dipped into the Logwood natural dye vat. A soft zigzag Shibori design runs across the length of the hand dyed scarf.

Logwood Dyed Hemp Roving

Logwood Natural Dye Hemp Roving

There was still a lot of logwood colour left in the dyepot so I added pre-mordanted hemp roving into the dye stock and let this gently simmer for a few hours. The natural dye process helps to soften the hemp fibres making it easier to spin.

Logwood Dyed Bamboo Roving

Logwood Natural Dyed Bamboo Roving

Adding the pre-mordanted bamboo roving into the logwood plant dye stock, gave a beautiful and shimmery silver colour to the bamboo roving.

Logwood Dyed Hemp and Bamboo Blend Roving

Logwood Dyed Hemp and Bamboo Blend Roving

Hemp and Bamboo are wonderful when they are blended together.

Please look for my Logwood naturally dyed products in my Spin Flora Etsy shop. If you can’t find them, please ask and I would be happy to make a custom order for you.

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Smelly Dye Day

Today’s plant dye vats are a bit smelly. Partly due to the mordants I have used and partly to a long fermentation (mostly because I forgot about them and left the dyestuff solution sitting outside for several weeks). This could be a good thing though, as fermentation helps to extract the dye from the plants.

Birch Bark Dye

Birch Bark Dye

30 grams of chopped Birch Bark
Isopropyl Alcohol
Steeping in a jar for several weeks. The dyestuff has turned a nice shade of pink. I put the dye stock into a dyepot filled with water and let it simmer for several hours.
Then I added pre-mordanted handspun flax into the dye pot, let it simmer for 2 hours and turned the heat off. I left the yarn to sit in the dyepot overnight. Wonderful colour!

Birch Bark Dyed Flax

There was still a lot of colour left in the dyepot so then I put a cotton tote bag into the pot.

Birch Bark Dyed Market Bag

Fungi Dye

A few weeks ago, I discovered what looked like Sarcodon imbricatus (that grow under pine trees) or Sarcodon Squamosus (that grow under spruce trees) fungi growing amongst the bark mulch in our garden. I couldn’t identify which type of bark mulch we have so don’t know whether these will yield any nice colour, but this will be a good experiment none the less.
In Norway, fungi dyers have had good success in producing green and blue dyes using Sarcodon fungi. I had heard that Sarcodon produce better colour when picked in the late fall, so I thought that perhaps freezing them would help to bring out the dye pigment, if there is any. I cut the fungi into small pieces, put them into a plastic container and added a bit of water – and into the freezer for a few weeks.
When I took them out of the freezer, I added a few drops of ammonia to change the pH to alkali, and let the fungi sit outside for a few weeks.
After this fungi mixture had fermented, I strained the fungi into a mesh bag and put it all into a dyepot filled with water to simmer for a few hours.


Sarcodon Fungi Dye on Flax

Disappointing grey/brown on handspun bleached flax. The plant dye world doesn’t always produce colourful results, but interesting to try.


After a particularly windy night, I took a short walk along the Canal near our house. The wind had knocked down a lot of tree branches that were covered with lichen. I gathered some of them up and took them home. I am not very familiar yet with lichens of the UK, but I think this is xanthoria parietina, which should produce yellow dyes. I scraped the lichen off the branches and put them into an organza mesh bag.
I put the lichen dyestuff into a dyepot, added water and let the dye stock simmer for a few hours.
Some Xanthoria parientina have 2 dye pigments, yellow and red. The red pigments can also produce pinks, plums and blues when fermented in ammonia. To test whether the xanthoria will produce the red shades, add a bit of household bleach to the lichen. If it turns red, then the dyestuff can be fermented.
Xanthoria parietina Bleach Test

The cotton bag didn’t turn red but is a pretty shade of soft pink. I suppose a lot more lichen would be required to get deeper colour.

Xanthoria Lichen Dyed Market Bag

If you would like to shop for one my Flora dyed Market Tote bags, please visit my Spin Flora Shop at Etsy for the latest selection.

If you would like more information about the Flora dye workshops that I offer, please visit Paivatar Yarns.

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Colours from Kitchen Waste

I always have a plastic bucket in my kitchen to gather onion skins for dyeing yarn, but more recently I discovered that avocado skins will also give colour. I have seen mixed results with avocado, mostly ranging from the palest pink to light shades of grey. So I wasn’t totally convinced that this would work. But I set up another plastic bucket to save the avocado skins rather than putting them down the waste disposal. I also kept the pits as they have valuable tannin, which is needed for mordanting plant fibres.
After I had gathered about 5-6 avocado skins, in various stages of drying and mold, I put these into my dye vat and heated it up for a few hours. Some pinkish shade of colour did appear in the dye solution. Fingers crossed and hopeful…

Avocado Skins

I removed all the avocado skins and I added the Seacell yarn that I had handspun into the avocado dye stock solution. I put the lid onto the stock pot and let the yarn simmer for a few hours.

Seacell Avocado Dye

To my delight and surprise the seacell yarn had taken the colour quite nicely.

I let the dyebath cool and removed the yarn. I rinsed it out and let it dry. The yarn did lighten a bit once it dried, but I am quite pleased with the colour.

Avocado dyed Seacell Yarn

And using my red onion skin bath I also dyed some handspun flax yarn.

Onion Skin dyed Handspun Flax yarn

Please visit my Web Shop if you are looking for plant dyed handspun yarns.

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My Indigo Vat

My Indigo Vat – Wondrous Shades of Blue

An Indigo Vat can be challenging to maintain but also rewarding. It must be nurtured, stirred and fed regularly to keep it happy. When you take care of the Vat, you will be rewarded with the most wonderful Blues, as the magic of the Vat transforms anything that enters it from green to blue.

I made a Ferrous Indigo Vat using The Maiwa Handprints Indigo dye recipe.
The natural Indigo dye recipe contains
Powdered Indigo 20 grams
Ferrous Sulphate 40 grams
Lime 60 grams

This type of vat is suitable for cellulose fibres, such as linen, cotton and other plant fibres. It is not advisable to use it on wool, as this contains Iron (Ferrous sulphate) which can be corrosive to wool and other protein fibres.

For information about other types of Indigo vats, please visit my pages at Allfiberarts – Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Please check my Web Shop for Hemp, Ramie and other handspun yarns and textiles that have been dyed in my Indigo Vat.
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