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A bit of a mess… (natural wool dyeing)

On the back of my other successful dyeing experiments I decided to get a bit cocky and do something more difficult.

I used a 104 g skein of mulberry thowster silk, a  by-product of the sari industry, which is then cleaned, bleached and  spun again into skeins

I wanted to make a skein that changed colours so I divided the skein into roughly three parts and wound each one into a loose roll.

natural yarn dyeing
The silk skein divided into 3 balls

I’d been collecting cherry seeds and thought I’d throw a few whole cherries for good effect (and because they were starting to go soft and weren’t really edible so I didn’t want to waste them). The mordant I used for the cherries was salt: 1/2 a cup of salt to 8 cups of water. I boiled up the mixture for about 30 mins, then left it to cool down and left it for an hour or so, then I strained all the pulp and seeds out.

natural yarn dyeing

Then I popped one of the end balls into the cold dye bath and heated it up until it was simmering. I turned the ball over once or twice to make sure the wool was evenly covered.

natural wool dyeing
Ball soaking in cherry dye

I decided to do something a bit different with the next ball. I had some left over Blue Heaven topping that I was going to throw out so I thought I’d have a bit of fun with it.

Now I know it isn’t natural, but I’m all about using what I’ve got and reducing waste, so rather than just tipping it out I decided to use it.

This was the messy part.

Blue Heaven Topping

I started using it straight and left the ball in the container overnight, turning it once.

blue gooey wool 🙂

I checked it in the morning, the outside was vibrant blue but the inside was still white so I got my fingers into the ball and tried to squish the topping into the middle of it. That didn’t really work very well so I diluted it with some water then loosened the ball and smooshed it around. I left it for another few hours.


I was aiming for a graduated red to blue colour way so I thought I’d do the middle ball purple. I still had the cherry dye left so I soaked the middle ball in there for a while till it went pinkish then I put some of the blue heaven in there and dripped it onto the ball so it was a mottled blue/ red (see in pic below)

natural wool dyeing
messy balls drying

As the balls dried the colours faded quite a bit and I wasn’t really happy with the result. SO, I put the red and middle (purplish) ball back into the cherry dye for an hour or so. The middle ball came out pinkish with no discernible blue blobs and then I put the first ball back in the cherry dye but I added a few drops of red food colouring to strengthen the colour as the cherry dye was weak by now.

I was well and truly over it by now 😉

I rinsed the balls ( the blue one was sticky!), let everything dry , wound it back into one large skein then washed it  with wool wash and let it dry in the shade one last time. The colours faded quite a bit once the yarn dried.

natural wool dyeing
the end result

Then I re- wound it into a ball. I think it’s quite pretty, it goes from blue to a light pinky, sometimes purple colour in the middle to a dark cherry / maroon colour in the middle.  I’m calling it my State of Origin colourway.

The finished product
tri colour dye
Close up

You can find more of my yarn dyeing adventures here… and here…

Stay tuned for more dyeing adventures,

Jacqui xx