You Purchased our Natural Dye Kit!

Now we’ll tell you what’s in it!

1 oz. Ground Madder Root (The packet that looks like Cinnamon)

.5 oz Cochineal (Looks like Silver/Pink little beetle shells, because they’re bugs!)

.5 oz Indigo (Looks like blue salt)

1/4 Cup Alum (Looks like white powder, but it’s just mordant)

1 oz. White Roving for testing your dye bath!

What You’ll need before you start dyeing:

1-3 Large stock pots

Some gloves - Rubber, or vinyl. ( Indigo will give your hands a zombie makeover)

A motar and pestle (or coffee grinder, for Cochineal)

Soda Ash

Pickling Lime

Sodium Hydrosulfite (For Indigo)

Cotton, wool or silk items for dyeing!

A large metal shower curtain ring ( you can use this to dip your skeins).

Dye Recipes:

Madder Root and Cochineal: Madder for red/orange shades, Cochineal for bright pinks.

Each Recipe should dye about two yarn skeins: Presoak your items if you can, for 5 hours before starting to dye!

.5 oz Sodium Carbonate (also known as soda ash or washing soda) 
.5 oz Alum 

1 oz madder root powder or Cochineal Powder

(If using Cochineal, grind up with pestle or coffee grinder.)

The mordant is what helps to keep the color in the wool. Depending on what is used and how much, can determine the color of the dye bath. 

Place the mordant items into a medium pot with warm water. Heat just until dissolved. 

Fill half of a large pot with cool water. Add in the mordant when it is dissolved. 

Soak skeins in mordant until water completely cools.

Make a satchel for your madder root, muslin, double up cheese cloth, or use an old pillow case.

Place the dye bags into the dye pot. 

Heat the dye bath to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celcius). DO NOT BOIL. Boiling will drastically change the madder to a much more brown color. 

Stir occasionally. Squeeze the dye bags occasionally to get the air out. 

Once the dye bath is finished, about two to three hours, let it cool. Take the dye bags out squeezing them to get as much color as possible from them.

Indigo Bath: For rich blues

These Instructions are as per Botanical Colors recommend.

25 grams (about an ounce or 2 Tablespoons) of powdered indigo will make a vat that will dye  about 1 kg (2.2lbs) of fiber a light to medium shade of blue.

1 part powdered natural indigo

  • 2 parts calcium hydroxide, also known as pickling lime, cal, calx

  • 3 parts fructose crystals

Create your stock in a large 2 quart Mason jar or a sturdy plastic container.  A jar is nice so you can see the reaction take place. You will be adding hot water, so make sure the plastic is heat resistant.  

Wet out the natural indigo with a little warm water to form a paste. Add about  2 cups of hot water (120°F) and stir.  The solution will be dark blue and a bit gritty.

Carefully add the calcium hydroxide and stir well so that the calcium hydroxide is incorporated into the mixture.  Smooth out lumps without agitating the water too much. Top off the jar with additional hot water once  the calcium hydroxide is incorporated.

The solution should now look greenish yellow and somewhat murky.  Let this settle for an hour.  The chemical reaction will work more quickly if the solution is warm, so you can place the glass jar in a pot of hot water.  Stir the solution every 15-20 minutes and let it settle.  Observe the stock and you can see the liquid near the top is getting clearer and yellow-green – don’t worry if it turns brownish red, that’s okay too.  Wait 45 minutes , then give the stock a final stir and let it settle for 15 minutes.  You can even leave this over night if you’re patient enough like that.

Fill a non-reactive dye pot about 2/3 full with hot water – approximately 120F.  Carefully pour the contents in, sludge and all.  Stir gently and allow the vat to come to a yellow-green color (this takes between 15-30 minutes).

Pre-Soak all fibers in warm water before dipping.

Dip your wetted out skein, fiber or fabric into the vat and keep it submerged for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.  Carefully remove the fiber, letting the excess liquid drain into a drip bucket that will be returned to the vat.  Keep dipping evenly until desire color is reached. Air out skein for 30 minutes, and then return to dipping for deep hues.

Indigo is a bath you can save for later! Simply store in the mason jar and repeat the steps!

Johanna Bystrom