Buckthorn Berries, the Invasive Wonder


A few months ago, I decided to use buckthorn berries to dye yarn.  I thought from the looks of the berries that the color would turn out to be a dark purple or maybe blue.  Instead I ended up with an array of brilliant green dye that varied depending on the amount of time that the dye simmered.  Longer times ended up with a more golden toned green and less time ended up with a vibrant green that I am hoping to replicate today.

Buckthorn is an invasive species that has taken over parts of forests here in Minnesota because there aren’t many if any animals that eat it.  Deer won’t touch it, which is too bad because deer end up choosing more hardwood seedlings to munch on rather then the overpopulated buckthorn.  I like to use vegetation that is unwanted or seen as weeds because I feel like I am not taking away from the environment as much.  Corny, right?  Most of the weeds that I have used have not come up with such brilliant colors as buckthorn berries.

Here is a sample of the yarn that I have made using buckthorn berries. The problem with sharing pictures of hand dyed yarn is that the yarn looks different in different light.  The top yarn is a khaki green, the middle a golden shade of green (I think this is the first time I have ever referred to green as being golden), the next one is a mixture of the two and the bottom yarn is the vibrant green that was created when I processed the berries and the yarn for a short amount of time.  I have been using this yarn, primarily from buckthorn berries, but also from red petunias, to create a rug I can “Circle Tree”.  I had to also use a wool blend store bought yarn since I have not been able to create a dark green color-yet…  I also used store bought dark brown with a reddish brown I had dyed using Sandbar Willow bark.  This yarn has been one of my favorites so far.  I just love the depth of color it produced, and it is a little unusual.  In the background, I used yarn I hand dyed using synthetic dyes-primarily the blue.  The purple is from plum fruit.  In the future I hope to use indigo to create blue dye, but that won’t be until next summer when the growing season returns.  If you asked my husband, he would say that will be in about six months.  Let’s hope not, but after winter comes spring!

  Here is my Circle Tree in progress.  Hope to have more done by the end of the day, but first I have to go have lunch with kids at school!


About jmhaag

It's hard to describe myself without saying things that don't really define me. I don't mean to get all deep and crap, but I am a mom, a wife, a daughter and a sister. I have chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, possibly Lyme disease. But I am so much more then that. I am a creator, an artist, an observer, a person trying to figure it all out while still enjoying life. I am driven to find a purpose meant for me by God, and to live fully in His light and love.

2 responses »

    • Last year, I was a beginner and didn’t use a scale to weigh the berries prior to using them in a dyebath. I did use green berries this year with a 1:1 ratio. I will probably use the same ratio when the buckthorn berries are ripe enough to use. Thanks for checking my blog out!

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