The Colours of Medieval Ireland II – Tree based colours

There are no end of ways to make colour happen on cloth and wool, the trick is rather to make them stay there. The earliest forms of fixing colours come from what Bríd Mahon (Traditional Dyestuffs in Ireland from Gold Under the Furze) calls “crude native alum [….] from wood ash, human urine, sheep manure,Continue reading “The Colours of Medieval Ireland II – Tree based colours”

My first experiments in natural dyeing

I have some experience with dyeing clothing from when I worked in a theatrical costume shop for a few years. These costumes were dyed in an old washing machine drum that we used exclusively for fabric dyeing, and the dyes we used were packaged Rit, Dylon, or other purchased powders and liquids in bright vibrant,Continue reading “My first experiments in natural dyeing”

Marigold – a colour that lives up to it’s name.

At a lovely August weekend in Clara, Orlaith managed to demystify natural dyeing for me to a large extent. I got really excited! This was something new that I hadn’t tried yet, and the thought of dyeing my own yarn and then making it into something I can use, or can gift to someone, hasContinue reading “Marigold – a colour that lives up to it’s name.”

The Great Madder Experiment

As part of an event I ran called Féile na nÚll this year there was a workshop, a great madder experiment if you will, where people who wanted to participate brought tap water from different areas. We messed about a bit with the PH of an additional sample of tap water and threw in aContinue reading “The Great Madder Experiment”


If anyone ever tells you Pink is not a period colour – they lie. Pink is produced in a number of ways, not least of which is just allowing a red dyebath to exhaust into steadily more pale pink tones. This is ordinary wool, linen and muslin cloth all dyed with brazilwood. I used tapContinue reading “Brazilwood”

What usually goes to a workshop?

This is just a brief introduction to the dyestuffs that generally tend to come along with me to workshops, so if anyone sees something in here they are *DYING* to try, do let me know? This is a photo of a sample of things in my as yet unpainted dyestuff box. I have a coupleContinue reading “What usually goes to a workshop?”

Period dyeing, a general intro

Natural dyes have lots of issues modern dyes don’t, but they are much more fun in my opinion. You just have to approach the whole thing the way a person in period might have – what am I dyeing, how much colour do I care about, does it need to be consistent, do I needContinue reading “Period dyeing, a general intro”

Weld – Medieval Dayglow (yellow)

NB: The dye REQUIRES the fibres you wish to use to be mordanted. Alum mordant will give the brightest yellow results. What it looks like (dried and as a plant) Weld (Reseda luteola) is a pretty wildflower, not invasive (in Ireland and the UK at least) with a tall spike of small yellow-white flowers. AsContinue reading “Weld – Medieval Dayglow (yellow)”