Natural Dye Colors on Wool

Natural Dye Colours


My project for the Holidays was to make a range of colours of wool out of the least amount of dye baths possible.  Up above in the photo on the left you’ll see I dyed the pinkish colour with Lac, I dyed the yellow colour with pomegranate rinds + a touch of turmeric. Then I pulled out some of the yellow, some of the pink and put it in a dye bath of IRON at 4% WOF. Exciting, 4 colours out of 3 dye pots.

Down below you’ll see the following skeins of wool that were dyed with these two colours.

Lac – a red dye extract from the scale insect Laccifer lacca which is found throughout India, south east Asia, Nepal, Burma, Bhutan and south China. It is found both in the wild and cultivated. The female lac insects invade host trees (mainly fig and acacia) and the insect secretes a resin that contains the red dye. When harvested, the resin is taken off the branches and is known as stick lac. The resin is also used to make shellac. The dye must be extracted from the resin before it can be used to colour cloth.

Lac extract yields crimsons to burgundy reds to deep purples. The colourant is similar to cochineal but colours achieved are warmer, softer, and more muted. The lac dye has high light and washfastness on silk and wool. 5-8% dye to WOF is all that is needed for a medium depth of shade.


Coffee – Tea and coffee provide a quick and easy way to dye paper and fabrics. Originally tea dyeing was used to hide stains on table cloths, dish towels and aprons. Nowadays it is a great way of adding color and age to a project. White paper looks far more interesting when stained with a subtle shade of tea, journal pages gain instant authenticity when they sport a few coffee rings, natural fabrics look warm and inviting when they lose their pristine look. More reasons to dye with tea or coffee is that it is cheap, slightly unpredictable and fun!


The dye colour from pomegrante rinds we saved last winter

I made this dye from rinds I saved from Olo’s pomegrante rinds last winter.  I pre-mordanted the wool with Alum at 10% WOF and then dyed it with the pomegranate rinds (that were never measured).

Look at those lovely hand spun balls of yarn! White from the sheep, light pink from a batch of un-mordanted madder and the gorgeous Lac dyed yarn I made for a Christmas gift.

This is my first time dyeing wool with natural dyes all on my own! I’m super proud of myself. After my maternity leave from dyeing I’ve promised myself to stay away from chemical dyes, as best I can. Looks like I’m off to a great start!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s