Natural Plant Dyeing

I have been curious for a long time about dyeing fibers naturally with native plants.  The notion of spending long slow afternoons with my boys in the woods and prairies,  finding just the right field where plants are plentiful, thoughtfully hand cutting each flower so as not to take too many from one area, then bringing them home for the slow process of drawing out the color. 

This ancient form of working with the earth and the changing seasons to create beautiful, natural yarn appeals to me greatly, and so did the photography of this book
Rebecca's book not only has beautiful photography and easy to follow recipes, but she addresses all of the concerns I had about wiping out a whole area's plant life or chosing mordants that won't damage local ponds and our precious water supply.

Tansy is in bloom right now as far as the eye can see, so we decided to start our harvest in an open field a block from our house.

Proper plant harvesting attire...

Easily distracted by games in the tall grasses...

and giant grasshoppers...

A quiet moment under the tree was a wonderful end to a cool summer day.

Have you ever tried plant dyeing?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!


  1. that book looks beautiful. i am not sure i am ready to hand dye yet, but am dreaming of a homestead that includes sheep for just such things...


  2. Plant dyeing is a little bit intimidating indeed, but the thought of my own sheep and hand spun, plant dyed yarn would be my dream:)

  3. Plant dyeing is just like making tea. I once went through a 'plant dyeing' phase (lots of other phases, too) where I would jump out of the car at a moment's notice to gather something along the road thinking "I wonder what color that makes?". No need to be intimidated, you can try it with eggs, wool, yarn, silk, basketry materials. You really don't even have to use a mordant. Or you can be super organized and catalog your results: no mordant, with alum, with iron, etc. on small samples of yarn or silk so that you can try lots of things without having used up your precious materials. As simple as making tea---and you can also use regular herbal or black tea bags.

  4. I haven't used plant dyes but my friend at has had some beautiful results from natural dies.

  5. Oh, I love the analogy to making tea! All of a sudden, it seems so simple:) Thank you:)

    Kristy: Thank you for the link, I'm off to check it out!