Natural Dyeing Take 5: Leaves and Berries

Although we’d covered most of the colour spectrum between the onions, the black beans, and the dye pack, there was one colour scheme in which we felt we were a bit behind in our natural dyeing adventure in France: green.

My parents’ house is surrounded by birch trees (cue gratuitous photo of the trees in a beautiful sunrise taken from the bedroom window).

When we arrived at my parents the birch trees had only just started sprouting new leaves, by the time I harvested the leaves, they were only a few days old at most, apparently older leaves give yellows while young birch leaves yield green. There were also a lot of ivy berries everywhere, which were supposed to give a nice green too.

Young Birch Leaves

Young birch leaves - copyright Eddieduckling

Placing the birch leaves in one bucket and the ivy berries in another, I poured boiling water over each of them and let the dyestuff soak and mature overnight. I then set each of these preparation to boil for a whole hour, stirring occasionally and for the berries crushing them in the process to get as much out of them as possible. I then drained the preparations through tights to strain any bits out of the dyeing solutions. Each of these dyeing solutions was then put back on the hob with the skeins of pre-mordanted yarn.

Although I had read somewhere in the Ravelry forums that Ivy berries did not require mordant, the sample of unmordanted fleece I tried in the ivy berries solution did not take up any colour, it all washed away.

Billede 351

copyright Eddieduckling

Here are the results we obtained with the birch leaves and Ivy berries on alum mordanted wools :

Top skein: Young birch leaves, 1st bath, alum mordanted wool

Middle skein: Ivy berries 2nd bath with heuchera mordant, alum mordanted wool

Bottom skein: Ivy berries, 1st bath, alum mordanted wool

I do like these soft greens.

Since it’s taken me quite a while to write these posts, I’ve had time to make a light fastness test, so I’ll be showing the results fairly soon, some dyes have held much better than others…

I love the idea of tyring more dyeing from the plants and berries available in different seasons. Eddie tried dyeing with blackberries and elderberries last year and got some lovely results, so I’m curious, have you tried dyeing with any berries or leaves?

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