This project was done and written by Lori Kelley-Hannis.  She is an experienced natural dyer and longtime member of the SCA.  Her Etsy shop can be found here.

It’s A Good Day to Dye

It’s raining blood, sort of. I’ve spent ages the past few weeks looking at natural dyes thinking I want to do that but I live in an apartment. Let’s face it, some natural dyes really reek. I was looking at some of the herbs and roots I have laying around my apartment and came across my big bag of bloodroot. I picked that up and then set my wool to soak in alum. Then I got to work.

I started with 440 yards of Knit Picks ™ Peruvian Highland yarn weighing in at 4 oz or 100grams.

 

bloodroot undyed yarn


bloodroot dye in colander

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Then I took two cap fulls of Alum and tossed it in the warm water, and let it soak. While the wet wool was soaking I started boiling the bloodroot. I know you aren’t supposed to boil; however, it was a good idea as the roots were hard and I needed to leech out as much color as I could. I strained the bloodroot through an aluminum strainer with a coffee filter within. Replacing the water and repeating this process three times.

Note from Kelley @slowyarn.com: Lori was using a whole, dried root form of bloodroot. If you use a powdered form, it will give color with a simmer, not a boil.

After that, I placed the yarn into the dye bath sitting in a plastic Tupperware bowl. I allowed it to sit for about three hours, during which time I allowed about 4 oz of wool roving to sit in another alum dye bath.

The color yielded was this incredible rich orangy gold in the first dye bath then mellowing in a butter yellow through the second.

Bloodroot dyed yarn

Copyright ©  2015-2023 Kelley Adams.  All rights reserved.

All text, photos, and graphics are the property of Kelley Adams unless credit is given to an alternative source.

6 thoughts on “Dyeing with Bloodroot

  1. I like to crochet (worsted wegiht) wool hats from different wools, and I have never crocheted goat. Please tell me the yarn you have that is worsted wegiht. I am quite intrigued! Lovely website.

    1. I would recommend checking your local phone listings for Handweavers Guild, Spinning Guild, or Fiber Arts Guild. There is always someone who enjoys taking on custom spinning, and could create some lovely worsted weight yarn for you out of mohair, cashmere, or pygora, which are all from goats. If you don’t have any luck with phone listings, search for spinning or fiber art in Facebook! If you haven’t tried crocheting with handspun yarn, I highly recommend the investment. Not only will your hats be unique, but the yarn has a life and spring to it that seems to be lost in the commercial spinning process so it’s great fun to work with.

  2. Bloodroot can be toxic on skin can you wear garments dyed with bloodroot and be safe??

    1. Any dyed fabric should be washed well after dyeing. If the color is removed from washing, then it was not a wash-fast dye in the first place. Also, I recommend always wearing protective gloves while doing any dyeing at all, so the bloodroot should not be an issue during the dyeing process, either.

  3. I’d like to use your photo of the bloodroot-dyed yarn in a talk I’m giving on native plants. Would it be OK if I include “Copyright 2018 Kelly Adams” under the picture?

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