Thursday, 23 September 2010

Dyeing with Blackberries

Blackberries are in season at the moment and we have quite a few in our garden. I have already used the best ones for Blackberry Jelly. After being inspired by the Hampshire Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild Exhibition, I decided to go home and give natural dyeing a try.

I picked as many blackberries as I could find (there were not many left). Not being very well prepared I didn't have a mordant, but I read the 'Making Natural Dyes from Plants' tutorial, which mentioned that you could use a salt fixative for berry dyes.

I made a mixture of 16 parts water and 1 part sea salt. I then put the yarn into the mixture and brought it to a boil. When it began to boil I turned the heat of and left it to rest in the salt water for 1 hour. I then gave the yarn a rinse and began to prepare the dye soup.

I added the blackberries to some water (c. 1 part berries and 4 parts water). I cooked the mixture for about 30 min after which I removed the pot from the heat and mashed the berries. I then let the mixture boil for another 30 min after which I strained the pump carefully. When there was no more pulp in the juice I put it back on the stove and added the pre-prepared yarn. I brought this to a boil again, turned of the heat and left it to stand till the next morning.

Next day I pulled the yarn out of the dye soup and gave it a good rinse, adding a splash of vinegar to one of the rinse baths. I then hung it to dry and used the end of my wooden spoon as a nostepinne to wind it into a neat ball.

[caption id="attachment_2367" align="aligncenter" width="476" caption="Ball of yarn dyed with Blackberries"][/caption]

I would like to note that a couple of weeks later I made a little tester by putting a strand of this yarn in the window for a week or so. It faded and became a more yellowish version of the original colour. Never having tried dyeing with a mordant like Alum I don't know what level of fading you would expect if you put your dyed item in the sun for a week. But I don't think you will ever expect it not to fade at all. Would be fun to experiment with. If anyone else has any experience with this I would love to hear your comment

The images in this post are copyright of Eddie Roued-Cunliffe. You are hereby granted permission to use them for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit Eddie and link back to this page. If you are using them and talking about this post I would love to hear from you in the comments.


  1. [...] instructions on using salt as a mordant. I had a go with the same wool I used last time for the Blackberry dyeing and I am at the moment knitting up some berry socks by making stripes with the two yarns. As I had [...]

  2. [...] purple colours, though reds, greens and browns often occur too. I have personally tried dyeing with Blackberries and Elderberries, both resulting in lovely shades of purple. As do Raspberries, Mulberries, [...]


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