Natural hand-dyeingDec. 15, 2020
Naturally dyed wool is created with ancestral wisdom using native plants and organic household “waste”. Until the mid-19th century all dyes were created this way and each culture or geographical region had unique colors based on their endemic species and local knowledge.
At friendly wool we not only look to rescue the value of our local Corriedale wool but also to augment the value of our regional flora, sustainable productive practices, origins of our cultural history, local creativity, talent and the love of these ancestral crafts.
We dye a limited amount of wool each month to assure we can sustain the harvest of our endemic species in accordance with the seasons and to work with utter respect with our native forests and grasslands.
Our mordants, which fix the colors in the wool fiber we mostly use alum stone but also delve into the use of sodium bicarbonate, white wine vinegar, oxidized nails (which also modifies color), cork, and ash. The use of these different mediums at certain parts of the process helps create the varied pallet of colors
Obtaining our desired colors: The principal player in this is the plant matter we choose and whether or not it is fresh or dried which will also play a roll in the final color. Sometimes we mix plants to try and achieve a desired effect. The proportions of plant matter is directly influenced by the amount of wool we are dying and we have found that we can use the plant matter more efficiently and get a wider range of colors by mixing different mordants as the process moves along. This all adds to the wonderful unique colors we achieve which are never exactly the same and it is always a great surprise what colors come about for you never know until the wool has completely dried.
This is a common herb in the Aysén Region, which along with it’s dying capacity has medicinal and culinary qualities. We use it dried to make our browns, coffee, and toasted colors. Depending on which mordant we use we can generate yellows and beige. When we mix it with the Lenga tree cortex and use white wine vinegar we create beautiful orange colors.
Canelo Tree (Drimys winteri):
This is one of our favorite plants to dye with. It is native to the Magellanic and Valdivian temperate rain forests of Chile and Argentina, where it is a dominant tree in the coastal evergreen forests. We collect it on horseback on one of our Wildlife Friendly Certified Ranches. We love the wide range of greens and yellows it gives our wool. It is so efficient and potent so we don’t have to use very much plant matter compared to some of the other dye bases. The vibrancy of the colors is heightened when we use it fresh and once dried it gives us more opaque colors. We have also experimented with different mixes of mordants to get a very rich caramel color.