Natural Dyeing and Spinning Wool for Beginners-Workshop 28/29 October

There was lots of activity here at Alder Cottage on Saturday and Sunday as three ladies worked hard at learning to spin and dye wool. Clare, Karen and Susan didn’t hesitate at handling raw natural dye materials and feeding the sheep.

Meet the Wool – Rose, Daisy, Eliza, Zack and Angel

After being presented their 2 skeins of wool mordanted with Alum, each lady chose 2 dye materials from an assortment, some of which I had collected in advance from the fields, roadside and my garden.

Assortment of natural dye materials.

Some of the plants, seeds and bark had to be soaked overnight before being used.

Dye materials being soaked.

The materials which could be used immediately were powdered madder root and powdered henna. We got started right away with these by making a dye bath and heating it to extract the colour. Then we dropped in the wool and let it simmer for about an hour.

Preparing the dye bath.

Ready to dip the Wool.

The best part was extracting the wool from the dye baths and seeing the results. It’s hard to imagine getting such lovely, vibrant colours from such dull looking material.

Very nice colours.

While the pots of wool and dyes were bubbling away, we learned the basics of spinning at a wheel. Each lady got their turn at the picker, carders and spinning wheels. There was lots of laughter and also some frustration, too.

Trying the picker.

Carding the old fashioned way.

The drum carder makes life a lot easier.

Fun at the wheels!!At the end of day two, everyone was tired but proud and satisfied with what they had accomplished and learned. The final results were surprising as well as lovely and should make for some nice knitting.

The materials used for the colours in the featured image above were, from top left corner: ladies mantle flowers, madder overdyed with ladies mantle, henna, logwood, annatto seed and madder. All were mordanted with Alum.

I always enjoy these workshops and meet such wonderful people. The next 12 months will fly by and it will soon be time for another!

Very appropriately, we had a Halloween visitor drop by for a look….”Spooky” the cat.

Spooky the Cat.



Logwood and Annatto.

Autumnal Colours.



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