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New Dyes

Last weekend I had a great day out at Yarndale in Skipton. I’m determined to exhibit there next year, so keep an eye out! In my wandering about I discovered a new supplier for my natural dyes and bought a few new dyestuffs to try out, including Annatto Seeds and Safflower.


Annatto Seeds dye a wonderful range of oranges and looking out of the window this morning I’m inspired to dye a couple of skeins of 4ply Merino Wool in an autumnal leaves colourway, I’ll take a few pictures and post about this next week.


I bought Safflower because I’d read from Jenny Deans Wild Colours book that it is one of a few dyestuffs that can give two completely different colours from the same dyeing. Initially giving a lovely bright yellow, Safflower can also give lovely pink shades too. This sounds like magic to me and I squeeked quietly when I saw it for sale! So, if you can bear with my geeky side I’ll also post about my Safflower adventures soon too.

Today, I’m mainly mordanting an obscene amount of wool so I can get to the fun part and start dyeing. Speak to you next week!

Inspiration from Nature

I was looking at the yarn we’ve dyed here at Tinctoria and how the colours matched the flowers emerging in our garden so well.

The yellows and greens beautifully echo the dandelions on the verges, the pinks mirroring the apple blossom, purples the alliums and forget-me-not blues. So I skipped off to Pinterest to find some inspirational crochet ideas and Wow! I was not disappointed. From gorgeous floral granny squares like this to geometrical wonders like this there are so many wonderful ways to show off some unique naturally dyed wool. Give it a go!


Merino Roving Double Knit Wool

A couple of weeks ago we dyed 5 skeins of Merino Roving double knit wool using Logwood and Cochineal. The colours ranged from the deepest purples and burgundy’s to pink and lavender purple. The wool itself is the softest and squishiest wool I have yet dyed with and I can’t wait to dye some more! I coincidentally came across the most amazing pattern by Mrs Moon ( for a bed runner. I can’t think of a project that would better suit both the wool type and colourways we have here at the moment. Or how about a snuggly warm cowl? Its up to you…

What can be done with 100g of wool

A lot of beautiful projects can be created using one 100g skein of hand dyed wool. A simple shoulder skimming shawl, cowl, hat, gloves, or a pair of socks. Alternatively highlight the hand dyed wool by striping with a contrasting plain yarn. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration and many hours can be lost browsing through some amazing projects (Tinctoria is on Pinterest too, check us out). Ravelry can be a useful source for ideas, it has a handy feature where you can search for patterns using the amount of wool you have, the number of colours you want to use or the yarn weight.

Of course, 1 skein of laceweight yarn is going to go a lot further than 1 skein of Double Knit wool. In the next batch of wool we are dyeing here at Tinctoria, we will be including some Laceweight 100% Merino. This is approx 1200 meters long and will knit up into the most beautiful and luxurious shawl, wrap or scarf.

A rainbow of colours

One of the single most amazing things I have learned since starting to dye using natural plant based dyes is the sheer range of colours that can be achieved. An entire rainbow of colours! Up until now, I have deliberately made an effort to stick to one colour per skein, although within that colour I have always tried for a variegated/dappled effect. With some dyes this is easy as they react to acid and alkaline modifiers noticeably and can give immediate results. Dyes such as indigo give such even colour results it takes a more deliberate effort to achieve colour variations within each skein. Some of my favourite colours have been created with pure experimentation. BUT, today we are charting new territory…

To begin I am going to dye part of each skein with Lac (for a red/crimson) or Onion Skins (for Yellow). Then they will get a dip in Indigo. Fingers crossed for some lovely red-purple-blue skeins and some yellow-green-blue. THEN another venture, dyeing a series of mini skeins with indigo progressively darker for the knitter wanting an gradual colour fade effect.

Dyeing is happening this today!

Sock Knitting Sets

Here at Tinctoria we have just listed two Sock Knitting Sets, just £12.00 each. In these sets you will get at least 100g of quality 4 ply Blue Faced Leicester Sock Wool, a set of 2.5mm Double Pointed Knitting Needles and a set of 4 no-snag stitch markers. Each set contains three colours of wool, this gives you the opportunity to create a totally unique pair of socks, perhaps stripey, perhaps contrasting heels and toes. Perhaps even totally random colour blocks for you wonderful folks who embrace the no-matching socks lifestyle!



What I like best about dyeing wool with natural dyes is its unpredictability. Plant dyes can be notorious for giving different colour results depending on the time of year gathered, the PH of the water or any number of other factors. This was super fun in the beginning and meant a lot of time cheerfully seeing what kitchen ingredients did what to the wool in the dyebath. However, as customers are tending to want a particular colourway consistent across a number of skeins, random experimentation is not necessarily the way to go. ENTER SCIENCE…


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Every skein dyed is now sampled and all specific dyeing details listed regarding water PH, modifiers and any sundry notes on anything that might affect repeating the colourway in the future. Colourfastness is also being tested for each batch. Am I enjoying dyeing the wool any less now I am documenting it so vigorously? Nope. Not only do I get to still experiment but I get to call it science, which is all kinds of awesome.


Indigo Adventures

This week I dyed with Indigo for the first time. Of all my natural dyeing so far, I enjoyed this the most. It was sciency fun! Dyeing with Indigo involves removing oxygen from the dye vat, then when the yarn is removed and oxygen is reintroduced to the yarn the magical colour change occurs. Colour can be deepened by repeating the soak and expose process.

I had two skeins dyed with onion skins, a skein dyed with dandelions and two undyed (just pre mordanted with Alum). I also had two skeins of chunky wool previously dyed with walnut husks. When dyeing wool I don’t aim for a uniform colour, instead I try to show the variations that can be achieved with colour, often giving the wool a variegated or dappled effect. With indigo especially I also wanted to try a tie-dye effect. Each skein was immersed for approximately 5 minutes, with one of the undyed skeins being left in for 20 minutes. At the end of the process I immersed the two chunky skeins for an hour (the dyebath by this point was beginning to be exhausted).

The colours went from this:



To this:
The two onion skin and indigo dyed skeins turned green, the slightly darker shade achieved with an extra 5 minutes in the dyebath.

The dandelion and indigo dyed skein gave a mostly blue result. I expected this, the dandelion dye had given a very poor yellow colour and I wasn’t expecting a nice green to emerge.

The undyed skeins both dyed a great traditional indigo jeans blue, two differing shades due to the length of time in the dye vat.

The final two walnut husk dyed chunky wool skeins began life as a rather boring mid brown shade. Overdyed with Indigo (and tie-dyed in places) they emerged looking like a pair of slightly worn blue jeans.

The whole exercise has shown me how much value indigo has as a dye. And how much fun it can be to do too.

The next dyeing session will also be with indigo. I am going to dye a series of 25g and 50g skeins to achieve a range of blue shades to sell as an Indigo Ombre packs. I will also be dip dyeing and tie-dyeing 100g skeins. Vive le Indigo Revolution!