Getting Color Naturally

Jun 23, 2011
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What is it that draws you to a particular skein of yarn; is it the luster, the weight, or perhaps the color? Color is my number one determining factor. A beautifully colored skein will immediately draw me across a room or inspire a hundred project ideas.


Naturally colored or dyed fibers stand in a class all to themselves. I love the rich reds, blues, greens, and purples created with ingredients plucked straight from nature. And, as a naturally curious person, I, like Colorways editor, Anne Merrow, want to know, "Why do pomegranates give green dye and avocados red? When so many plants are green, why are there few sources of green dye?"


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In the first edition of Colorways, I was fascinated as I read about colors created with plants, insects, and minerals as well as those that occur naturally. And the popups, videos, and downloadable PDFs available in this digital magazine take the information available in one place to an interactive level.


I loved learning about the cochineal, a tiny bug that, when dried and crushed, is used as dramatic dye. You can create a wide range of colors from deep red to lavender with this tiny beetle, primarily from Central and South America. There can be upward of 70,000 individual bugs in a just a pound, but demand makes each pound precious. If you want to try dyeing with cochineals yourself, you can download information on two methods of dyeing with these tiny insects.


But not all colored fiber is dyed. Cotton naturally comes in a wide range of colors from the traditional white to various shades of brown, green, yellow, and pink. And this natural

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coloring, unlike dyed fiber, won't fade over time. If you live in an area with at least 150 frost-free days, you can even try growing cotton yourself.


Okay, now I'm really hooked on natural dyes and fiber colors. If I can get my hands on a few ounces of cochineal, I have just the skein of undyed wool waiting to be transformed into a beautiful deep red, and I have a newfound appreciation for the versatility of cotton. Find more information on natural dyes and colored fiber by downloading the first edition of Colorways today.


Best wishes,



P.S. Tomorrow is the last day of the Hurt Book and Overstock sale, so stop by the Crochet Me Shop for your last chance to pick up great books, magazines, DVDs, and more at 50%–80% off.


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Comments

createmefree wrote
on Jun 23, 2011 10:52 AM

A heads up to San Francisco Bay Area folks - the Exploratorium is doing a ColorFest starting the first of July and there will be demos on natural dyeing including dyeing with the cochineal bug.

CathyJ wrote
on Jun 23, 2011 11:24 AM

How can anyone think that killing 70,000+ living creatures is worth it to get a pretty shade of wool?  That is abhorrent.

Cathy Jupp              

on Jul 14, 2011 8:26 AM

Thanks a lot for sharing this one, I'll try  to dye some of mine over the weekend if I get time. I'll let you know how it goes.

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