Category Archives: Dyed yarn

Too Much To Put Into A Title

Too Much To Put Into A Title

That’s right.  I am going to write about too much to put into one, nice clean, pretty title that would make sense to everyone including the dog.  Instead, I will babble on for a few lines about nothing and then get to the point.  Let’s skip that and get right to it.

So, I have yet to have experimented with mordanting wool yarn with copper.  I have done wool fabric, but not yarn.  Not only that, but I have not used copper as a mordant and then went on to dye it with one of my natural dyes.  I was actually quite impressed with the color after the yarn was mordanted.  It is a pretty blue, not sure what color to call it exactly.  But I definately liked it enough to leave some of the yarn out of the dyeing process.  I decided to look up colors on just to get a name for this color and what I came up with is Green Ridge D25-3.  When you look at this yarn and you have seen corroded copper before, you will see the color I am trying to get at.  Sometimes monitors don’t do the pictures justice.

Next, I used Annato seeds (also known as Achiote, Bixa orellena) I bought at the local grocery store.  I was going to plant annato, but then after doing a little digging, I found that the dye is actually in the seed, not the plant.  Well, I suppose the dye is in the plant too, but I spent a little over a dollar to experiment with Annato seeds.  The yarn that I have dyed thus far has run a fairly simple color scheme of yellows, yellow green, light purples and tans.  I haven’t really gotten anything truly vibrant from natural dyeing, but that will all change.  I put all of the Annato seeds into one leg of a pair of nylons.  (As a side note, do people still buy pantyhose, and if so, what is the difference?  I don’t know that I have ever worn pantyhose before.  Although maybe I have and just didn’t realize it).  I tied a not around the open end and threw it into the dye pot along with alum mordant yarn and half of the yarn I dyed previously with irises.  At first, I though I was going to end up with yellow.  Boo hoo on my patience.  I stirred the pot, I shook the seeds a little to give them room to jiggle, and then let the pot sit for about 45 minutes.  I returned   to find two fabulous brilliant shades of orange.

My one problem with the Annato seeds is that the dye did not cover completely, but then again, it gives the yarn a little character.  Returning again to, I found my orange colors to be compatible with Sun Safari C3-2, Crayola Under Construction DK34, and Flaming Torch C2-1.  Sun Safari came after I dyed the first two skeins of yarn.  I also tie dyed the Sun Safari yarn for no other reason then I wanted to see how it would turn out.

Last week, I had to cut back some Black Eyed Susans because they were invading the peony we have in one of our plantings.  Black Eyed Susans are a little like weeds.  They spread like nobody’s business, but I couldn’t really replant all of them, so I cut the leaves off and used them to dye with.  From what I read, I should have ended up with a granny smith apple green, but I ended up with a more army green/khaki/tan color.  From again, the color is called Moss Landing D10-4.  I used part of the copper mordanted yarn to dye with as well and ended up with a dark olive color, Aubusson Vine D17-2.  This one too I tie dyed.  It looks so cool with the dark khaki green mixed with the sea foam green.  Love it!

And lastly, I used some old blueberries.  I simmered the blueberries until there was a gooey mess in the pot, added some water and simmer for a little longer.  I strained off the blueberries and threw some alum mordanted yarn into the pot.  I have done blueberries before and the result is always pretty much the same.  A nice light purple comes out with a bunch of tiny little black seeds stuck all over it.  Don’t worry thought, once the yarn is again in a pretty little ball or skein of yarn, most, if not all of the seeds are gone.  I also used a bit of copper yarn.  While the yarn was in the pot, the yarn turned dark dark grey, nearly black.  I haven’t yet made black and am hoping to this fall with gypsywort.  After rinsing the dye out, the yarn ended up being olive green, much like the color you would see on old army tents.

Here are all the colors I created using natural dyes and a copper mordant.  Pretty exciting, right?  Well, maybe exciting is too strong of a word.  Maybe the word I should use is _____________You fill in the blank.


Using up the scraps

Using up the scraps

I decided to take all of the yarn I dyed last summer and use it to make a needle holder for my knitting needles.  The funny thing is I crocheted it!  I thought I would use up the different colors to create a needle holder.  What I made was really very neat.

The colors were very complimentary to each other and quite pretty. 


I still think it is unbelievable the brilliant colors that can be created by plants, especially those we consider weeds!


I ended up attempting to felt my needle holder, but I think some of the yarn I used was not entirely new wool.  Live and learn, right?

This picture below is a bit better/brighter.  It seems as though the picture above ended up taking on a blue tinge.  Not sure why, but it looks kind of neat!

 What is so interesting as I go through this process is how much I feel I still need to learn.  I think that I have achieved a certain level of competence, and instead I find out that I still have so much more to investigate.

Learning is like rowing upstream:  not to advance is to drop back.

~Chinese Proverb


Just as an added side note:  I once made this box for a class I was taking to become an elementary school teacher (it worked out really well as I sit here in my pajamas!) and I put a quote on there that has always meant a lot to me.  I am not sure who it is attributed to but I would also like to put it here because it says a lot about who I am as a person and what happens once I attach  myself to an idea:  Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.

Jerome Grant-The Big Reveal


Well, much like getting acceptance or rejection letters from colleges, the smaller the envelope, the smaller the chance of exceptance.  Thus was the case with the Jerome Textile Grant I had applied for.  I am not all that upset about not being picked because I think I have a lot of growing to do as an artist before I can really compete with other artists in the fiber arts field.  I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, and I think I have acknowledged that on more than one occasion.  I have seen through books that I have so much to learn.  I have so much room to grow and develop my skills that I can always return to applying for the grant next year.

Was I pinning all of my hopes on this grant?  Not really.  I think I figured out a few weeks ago that I really couldn’t put myself in contention because of my limited experience.  So many of the other people who had applied in previous years had backgrounds in art, had been educated in art beyond my short high school art classes.  Many of them had shown their art at art shows, been involved in the art community, and had taken steps to improve their craft through participating in various artsy activities.

It is a bummer that I cannot proceed with a grant to help me in exploring new possibilities, but that was the point of my KICKSTARTER project.  I have taken the initiative to create my own artwork, and show it here and to family members.  Hopefully I will soon find myself putting on an art show somewhere soon.  I need to get up the courage, and the time to put together pieces that I am willing and able to show.


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!

Dyeing with Cleome


Last year, I planted these plants.  I couldn’t remember what they were.  Surprisingly they took over the back of one of our landscapes.  They are really neat flowers.  Their flowers turn into seeds and each individual stalk continues to grow.  I am not anywhere near a person who is knowledgeable in gardening or flowers, but I thought this was quite unique.  I decided to pick off the flower heads and use them to dye wool.  Upon doing so, my fingers were covered in a sticky mess.  I had to wash my hands multiple times to get the “stickiness” to go away.  Not only that, but the main stalk of each plant is protected by thorns, not unlike those found on rose bushes.  Anyway, today I decided to start my journey into dyeing with cleomes.  Cleomes are also known as Spider Flower, Rose Queen, Cleome spinosa, Cleome hasslerana