what are nettles good for #8. Dyeing.
Some years ago himself bought me a book on dyeing with natural materials : Wild Colour by Jenny Dean, which unfortunately is no longer in print. Actually I think it was a bit of a mistake present, as at the time I was dabbling in tie-dyeing with synthetic dyes, and this book was nothing to do with that subject.
Fast forward to this year, and we think we might have a go at dyeing with nettles, and after hunting around and asking, I finally remember I have a book on the subject. I think I have reached the right stage, because those muddy colours I had dismissed before, now look nice natural muted colours.
We followed the instructions on nettle dyeing, which was essentially – go out with large dye saucepan and fill to the top with nettles, boil for a long time, strain, then use the juice to dye some wool which we pre mordented with alum.
What is particularly great about the book is that it had a chart of colours that we could expect, depending on what mordent we use, when the nettles were picked (autumn pickings give a different colour to spring), and what part of the nettle we used.. and we got the exact colour predicted. As you can see from our picture we turned white wool into golden beige. Really pleased with the result.
As I said, it is a shame this book is no longer available, but there are many others out there these days, and I might even invest in another (I always like to compare recipes when cooking!) – suggestions welcome. With this and our other adventure with woad, and so many more natural and easily obtained materials available, we are both really taken with this dyeing malarkey…can see us dabbling lots more.