Natural dyeing

Dyeing with Autumn Beech Leaves

Who doesn’t love the gorgeous shades of copper, red and gold of autumn beech leaves? I wanted to see if I could maybe capture some of that glorious coppery goodness in my dyebath, so I scooped up a big bag of fallen leaves from the wood near my house and put then to soak in the outhouse for just over a week. Thankfully they did not stink like the oak leaves did!

I had soaked about 900g of leaves but that many wouldn’t fit into my dye-pot, so I strained off the liquid, which was already coloured a fairly intense reddish-brown, and simmered as many of the leaves as I could cram into it – maybe about two-thirds. An hour later I strained it all, and added 100g of Regia for Hand-Dye yarn which I’d mordanted with 15g of alum and 8g cream of tartar.

I simmered the yarn in the dye bath for an hour, then left it to cool down, about 5 hours. Then I added 2 tsp soda ash to the cold bath and let it sit for 30 mins, which did intensify the colour a little.

Here is the result: not as vibrant as the carpet of fallen leaves in the woods, but still a lovely reddish-camel colour.

Weight of dye-stuff: approx 900g
Weight of yarn: 100g
Mordant: 15g alum, 8g cream of tartar
Modifier: 2 tsp soda ash