Natural Wool Dyeing

A couple of times a year we camp at Barrington Tops in a cabin with no power so all cooking is done on an open fire. I always take a couple of old Spin-off magazines to read and I had read an article about a Canadian lady dyeing wool after Christmas using her cedar Christmas tree. It sounded like fun so I thought I would give it a try using radiata pine as a huge one grows nearby. So I put leaves and stems, as much as I could fit in a stainless steel bucket, topped it up with rain water from the tank, lit the fire and boiled it for about 4 hours and got a good amount of colour.
Dyeing on the wood stove
Time ran out and I needed certain ingredients that I did’nt have, so nine months later when we went back I took the dye up with all ingredients except one which was alum. I couldn’t buy it anywhere and this was the mordant I needed to open the wool fibres for the dye to take. I searched around and discovered stale urine works, so I thought “Oh well, I will give it a go”. So I boiled the wool in with water, urine, cream of tartar, bicarb soda and vinegar – tried the lot.
Pine dye
It simmered on the stove for an hour, then I left it overnight, then put in the dye and simmered for about another hour. It was hard to tell with accuracy as loading up the fire had its highs and lows. I was pleased with the result.Pine dyed wool

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