Solar Dyeing – Ivy Leaves

After almost a year’s wait, I finally unleashed a solar dye pot that had been brewing in the greenhouse.

Using ivy weeded from a friend’s garden, I decided to save the stems for basketry and use the leaves in a dye pot. I’d heard somewhere on the internet that ivy can be used to get green colours so I just thought I’d experiment using 25g of white fleece (Jacob, I think) to 80g of ivy leaves.

The water in the jar initially turned a lovely rich tea colour. Then as the months went by the dye ‘liquor’ got darker and darker. I sneaked a peek in the autumn and found the top surface had quite a lot of mould/bacterial action and an impressive stink. I probably should have dealt with it at the time, but in my usual style I put it off until I summoned up the courage this month to empty out the contents and wash the wool.

The dye colour was a mild brown though the tips of the locks were quite a strong rust red colour. I thoroughly washed, rinsed and dried the fleece before combing and dizzing it into a few little nests for spinning. I carded the ‘waste’ into little rolags using my hand carders. You can see that there was a lot of colour which washed out.

I spun the combed fibres into one small 2-ply skein using my Ashford Kiwi, with the rolags into a second skein.

I’d describe the colour as ‘mushroom’. Probably I wouldn’t have intended to dye anything this particular colour but I do quite like it, and little skeins like this can come in handy for future projects. Thinking about it now I wish I’d saved some of the unspun fibre for felting purposes. 


All in all, a fun project which didn’t cost anything but time and a little fleece from the stash. 

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