Naturally dyeing raw wool

Now that I am able to card my own raw wool, I can do some fun dyeing with it!

Click to see the previous article about preparing raw wool.


I had in mind to do some natural dyeing.

My first batch I dyed with coffee grounds that I had been collecting over the past month or so.




The first batch turned out pretty nice though I was expecting it to be darker, so re dyed the same batch of wool again and it turned out better.








I also had been saving the red onion skins from last years onion harvest, and dyed another batch of carded wool in that too.

The colour turned out amazing!







The basic process of dyeing with plants, is to harvest the plant; flowers, leaves and or roots, cut them into small pieces, boil then simmer.

Adding wool that has been soaked in some sort of a mordant prior to simmering it in the dye bath.






I had read many articles about mordants and found conflicting information.

So I decided to try both salt and vinegar, which seemed to work pretty well, so I have stuck to that.

I had read that the vinegar helps the fibres to absorb the dye and the salt helps the dye to adhere to the fibres.

After allowing the wool to simmer in the dye bath, I let the whole pot cool overnight.




Next day, I rinsed the wool and set it out on a wire rack outside in the shade to dry.


From left to right: red onion skins, green pine needles, mustard greens.




So far I have dyed using locally harvested plants, for me it makes the project that much more special!


This bright green wolf lichen gave me a wonderful “chiffon” yellow when I added copper tubes to my mordant.













Witches hair lichen found at sub alpine levels make a beautiful light green.





One of my favourite colours









Surprisingly I got a light reddish brown dye from green Ponderosa pine needles! (right)








And a beautiful soft green from wild sage (left), though I made the huge mistake of boiling these plants inside, and became quite noxious from the fumes!!

I have been looking for old fashioned red adobe bricks to make an outdoors rocket stove, though they seem hard to find these days!



From left to right: red onion skins, green pine needles, dandelion wild sage and wolf lichen.







And finally a week’s worth of dyeing!
















L-R: Witches hair lichen-wild sage-green pine needle-wolf lichen.

Middle: Witches hair lichen & coffee grounds, double dyed.

Bottom row R-L: mustard greens-red onion skins-dandelion greens & roots-red onion skins

Middle right: coffee grounds, double dyed.


What can I say? I think I’m addicted!




For more info about natural dyeing, please see below:

All Natural Dyeing

Kitchen Dyeing



Click to see my article about my very first wet felted project!

Click to see my post about working with raw wool









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *