Dyeing Fiber with Natural Materials

As a knitter, I have a great appreciation for luxury yarns, especially ones that are in some way unique. As a spinner, I have the ability to create such yarns myself and supply other knitters as well as myself with something special.

Dye-pot of Polypore and Roving

Last week I collected several pounds of Dyer’s Polypore on Mt. Tamalpais. I was able to dye close to one pound of Merino-Tencel blend and almost one pound of Faux Cashmere, a superfine nylon fiber which is as soft as the most expensive luxury fiber available but is about 1/7th of the price.

Four Dyelots from Polypore and Jack O' Lantern

Above From Right to Left: Unmordanted polypore hot dye on merino-tencel; unmordanted jack o’ lantern hot dye on merino-tencel; unmordanted polypore hot dyebath on faux cashmere; unmordanted polypore exhaust dye on faux cashmere.

Later in the week I also dyed with some pomegranate skins and fresh Tumeric from the Berkeley Bowl, my local natural food store. This produced a vibrant yellow reminiscent of sunflowers.

Dyeing with Household Items

Above from Top to Bottom: unmordanted pomegranate skin hot dye on norwegian wool; alum mordanted raw tumeric hot dye on norwegian wool; alum mordanted raw tumeric hot dye on merino-tencel; alum mordanted raw tumeric hot dye on faux cashmere

I’ll be spinning these up in the next week and posting them on etsy as the skeins are completed. The question is should I blend different dyelots of the same fiber type and make several consistent skeins or should I spin them up separately and make a unique skein for each dyelot?

7 thoughts on “Dyeing Fiber with Natural Materials

  1. Kate H says:

    Are you still looking for yellow onion skins?

    Also, someone I met at Fair the other day suggested that there was a mushroom that grows well on Cal’s campus that you could use. He thought it had silver in the name, but it’s probably polypore like you used. If so, that might be a closer source of dying mushrooms.

    • Kate, I am still more than happy to take onion skins, though I’ve already gotten half a pound of them. I’m very curious about the mushroom you’re talking about. Mushrooms are coming up all over Mt. Tam, but are just starting to come up in Berkeley and I’d be thrilled to find a source that isn’t an hour drive away.

      • Kate H says:

        From David: Mmhm. ‘Sulfur Tufts” There is a tree stump near an apartment building pretty close to peoples park that has to the best of my knowledge an active colony of mycelial growth. I’m not sure if you’d really want to use them though, or if they are fruiting right now. . . but perhaps!

  2. lisa says:

    Nice! It’s pretty much the end of mushrooming around here (Maine)…

  3. Chris darrah says:


    Looking to buy / trade for semisang corts. Also need western jackolantern.
    My wife’s a weaver/ dyer of fiber

    Chris Darrah
    215 794 7080

Leave a Reply to peculiarpurls Cancel reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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