Over time, I learned how harmful synthetic dyes can be our health and the environment, which is why we are committed to dying our wool yarn with natural dyes. And what better match for local pure wool yarns than natural dyes? In the beginning, it was a bit of a science experiment to achieve the colours we were looking for. We experimented with different natural materials, mixing and matching, hoping that not everything would turn out brown. Water chemistry and pH also has a big impact so we had to try a few different options to figure out what works best. But through all the trial and error, we’ve nailed down the science – I think!
Dying wool yarn can be achieved in many different ways, but at Revolution Wool Company, we ensure that our colours are sourced from the beauty of nature. From flowers, plants and trees to fruits and vegetables, and even bugs – these are all ways in which we find our natural dyes. Here are three of the most common sources of natural products we use for dying our wool yarn:
1. Trees, plants, and flowers
One of the things I love most about using trees and plants as natural dyes is finding a use for them when no one else wants them. Take burdock, for example – those are just about everyone’s nemesis. Once those burrs find someone (or something) to attach to, they refuse to let you pass by. But, the leaves of burdock produce a beautiful olive green! We also use logwood for purples, sumac for grays, indigo for blues, and goldenrod and marigolds for yellows.
2. Fruits and vegetables
You could save for vegetable scraps to make broth, but if you’re looking for natural dyes, you can also use them to dye. I shared the story of using onion skins to dye Easter eggs and we use them to dye our yarn too. Onion skins produce the warmest golden yellow colours. We also use the leaves of Rhubarb for yellows and greens. While walnut is considered a tree, we actually use the “fruit” of the walnut tree for natural dyes and create variations of brown for tan to rich chocolate brown.
Yep, you read that right! We use cochineal and lac to get beautiful pinks to purples. The female cochineal is a scale insect that produces a bright red substance. This substance is used to discourage predators. Likewise, the lac produces a bright red resin to protect itself and its young. These bugs give us the perfect beautiful shade of red to dye our yarn with. These insects have be used for centuries as red dye.
While there are so many other ways you can achieve beautiful rich colours through natural resources, these are some of the most common ones we use at Revolution Wool Company. We take great pride in producing great products that are safe for you, safe for our sheep, and leave minimal marks on the environment. Using natural dyes, we can ensure that when our products reach the end of their life, they are still naturally biodegradable, giving back to the earth the way we intended.