Guide to Dyeing Yarn: Learn How to Dye Using Natural Dyeing Techniques

Naturally dyed textiles have been around for 6,000 years and maybe more. Once you start exploring the world of natural dyes, you’ll find that dyestuff exists in areas you may have never thought to look—your garden, roadside (think weeds), and spice cabinet for starters. Whether you’re using dyes from nature or synthetic dyes, learn to achieve every color of the rainbow with fiber dyeing techniques from the experts at Spinning Daily.


There are basic rules to dyeing: know your dye, know your fiber, and know your water. This free eBook is an essential guide whether you’re a beginner or are experienced in dyeing. Even if you’re working with natural dyes, there are safety precautions to take to protect yourself and the environment. Dive into the basics of hand dyeing yarn and understand the different approaches depending on the fiber, from cotton to wool.





What’s inside?

Mother Nature provides us with many sources for color—plants (flowers, stems, leaves, roots, berries, fruits, seeds), trees and shrubs (leaves, twigs, bark, wood), lichen and moss, as well as bugs and shellfish. Many provide color and not always the color you think; for example, a red flower will usually yield a yellow color. This free tutorial covers the ins and outs of natural dyes, explore dyeing with black walnuts as well as using a natural hot springs to supply mineral mordants (the “glue” that holds the dye to the fiber), and get instructions for making a solar dyeing oven.

Dye Yarn with tips from our free guide

Dye Fiber with Plants

Color from Weeds By Lynn Ruggles


During her gardening studies, Ruggles stumbled across important and interesting knowledge about weeds. Thus began a two-year exploration of dyeing yarn with weeds. To start, she made a list of potential dye candidates from plants she had already identified. As it was already July, she began with plants that bloomed in the late summer and were listed in the book as nonfading or lightfast.


Fiber Dyeing

Introduction to Natural Dyes By Dagmar Klos


Discover safety essentials, set up, materials, and fiber preparations required for working with natural dyes for wool, cotton, and many more. It’s important to know the different approaches depending on the fiber you’re working with, because the ideal approach for one fiber can be harmful to another.  Learn everything you need to know to properly dye yarn with this comprehensive introduction to natural dyes.


Dyeing Outdoors

Dyeing with Black Walnuts By Elizabeth Fahey


Homesteader, Elizabeth Fahey, dyes wool with walnuts over an open fire to make her family handspun, handknitted, naturally dyed socks. This is the dye that is her delight. Every fall, she makes a big batch of it to dye the yarn for the thick, woolly socks that she knits to keep her family members’ feet toasty warm. The husks contain tannin, which acts as its own mordant to make the colorfast. Rather than fading with time, the color seems to darken slightly.


Methods for Hand Dyeing Yarn

In Hot Water: Experiments with Natural Springs and Vegetable Dyes By Glenna Dean


Glenna wanted to know how cotton could be dyed so that colors remain bright after some 700 years (like the ancient textiles found in the south western United States). She decided to explore the dye potential of the natural springs and various mineral waters in her area.


Natural Dyeing Techniques

Sun-Kissed Dyeing: Achieving Beautiful Colors with Solar Power by Jeannine Bakriges


Talk about nature at its finest! Learn a process that allows you to dye without having to tend a fire, an electric hot plate, or a gas burner. Learn from an expert in solar dyeing, Jeannine Bakriges, as she recounts the experience of completing solar-dyed yarn projects with a group of other fiber-lovers. The range of projects produced, the colors achieved, and the often unusual methods used by Brighid’s Dyers were amazing.

This yarn spinning tutorial download is an essential resource.

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