Nature or natural dyes are just so darned much fun. Whether you use live plants from your own neighbourhood, or use the various dried products from wood, bark, flowers, leaves or even bugs, it’s always a thrill to pull those skeins out of the pot, because you never know ahead of time exactly what you will get! We’ve put together a selection of nature dyes here that we love working with ourselves, and our hope is that you will too.
We are still loading this section with all kinds of tips and instructions for each dye. Our full current lineup is loaded into the cart though, and stocks are good on most products.

The photo you see here is a scarf that Dyeguy (John) knit using 16 of his natural-dyed yarns, mostly from local plants in the area. You can see the scarf anytime, it’s always on display here in the shop.

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Annatto Seeds
Seeds from a South American plant, Bixa orellana, widely used as in commercial food colourings, an ornamental where hardy, and the seeds are used in various cuisines to colour food. It's actually the pulp that surrounds the seeds that supplies the colour. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Produces various shades of yellow to orange-yellow and can be modified with mordants. Pre-mordanting recommended. Use at 30-40% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: soak seeds for several days or up to a week in a jar of water or vinegar and shake daily. Simmer in the soaking water/vinegar at 190-200°F for 1 hour. Cool overnight and strain. Add more water if necessary and enter wet, pre-mordanted fibre. Hold at a 180-190°F for one hour, then cool overnight in the dyebath. Light and washfastness: fair with a mordant. Keep wash temperatures cool and expect some dye run.
$2.75$11.25 Select options
Black Oak Bark, Ground
Black Oak Bark, Ground
Ground inner bark of Quercus velutina, sometimes known as Quercitron. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. A well-respected source of strong yellows. Pre-mordanting recommended. Alum/c.o.t. mordant gives excellent results. Use at 10-20% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: simmer in water at 160-175°F for 1 hour. Cool overnight and strain. Add more water if necessary and enter pre-mordanted fibre. Hold at a 160-175°F for one hour. The brightest yellows develop at these cool temperatures. Light and washfastness: excellent with a mordant.
$24.75$44.55 Select options
Black Walnut Hulls, Crushed
Black Walnut Hulls, Crushed

Coarsely ground dried hulls of Juglans nigra.

Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Yields rich browns and tans. A substantive dye but pre-mordanting recommended for improved lightfast and colourfast qualities. Use at 25-50% WOF for medium shades.

TO USE: soak 24 hours or longer to rehydrate. Simmer at 185-200°F for 1.5 hrs. Cool and strain. Enter fibre and simmer and simmer at 185-200°F for 1 to 1.5 hrs.

Light and washfastness: good to excellent.

NOTE: WEAR GLOVES!! Clean pots and utensils well, this dye tends to stain everything it touches.

$4.51$18.45 Select options
natural dyes @ the fibre garden
Brazilwood, Extract
Sawdust or extract from a tropical tree, Caesalpinia punctata. This species is from southeast Asia and is not the endangered species native to Brazil but still produces good, rich colours. It is also called Sappanwood or Eastern Brazilwood. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Best with a premordant. A classic dye that gives rich crimson, purple or pink, depending on the mordant. Brazilwood is very generous and, although expensive, a dyebath can yield up to 7 or 8 successive dips. Have plenty of fibre prepared, soaked and ready! Light and washfastness is rated as average. SAWDUST: Use at 20-100% WOF for medium to strong shades. Soak in water and/or rubbing alcohol for a few hours. Spread on a tray to air overnight. Add to water and simmer 1 hour. Cool and strain. Observe dyebath colour. If it leans towards scarlet-orange, stir in a teaspoon of Soda Ash to push the pH higher and change the dyebath to more of a purple-red. Add small amounts of Soda Ash until this happens. Enter premordanted fibre to dye liquor and simmer 1 hour. EXTRACT: Approximately 6 times stronger than sawdust or chips. Use at 20-50% WOF for medium to strong shades. Dissolve in hot tap water and add to dyepot. Adjust pH with Soda Ash as outlined above. Enter premordanted fibre to dye liquor and simmer 1 hour.
$19.25$63.00 Select options
natural dyes @ the fibre garden
Brazilwood, Sawdust
Sawdust or extract from a tropical tree, Caesalpinia punctata. This species is from southeast Asia and is not the endangered species native to Brazil but still produces good, rich colours. It is also called Sappanwood or Eastern Brazilwood. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Best with a premordant. A classic dye that gives rich crimson, purple or pink, depending on the mordant. Brazilwood is very generous and, although expensive, a dyebath can yield up to 7 or 8 successive dips. Have plenty of fibre prepared, soaked and ready! Light and washfastness is rated as average. SAWDUST: Use at 20-100% WOF for medium to strong shades. Soak in water and/or rubbing alcohol for a few hours. Spread on a tray to air overnight. Add to water and simmer 1 hour. Cool and strain. Observe dyebath colour. If it leans towards scarlet-orange, stir in a teaspoon of Soda Ash to push the pH higher and change the dyebath to more of a purple-red. Add small amounts of Soda Ash until this happens. Enter premordanted fibre to dye liquor and simmer 1 hour. EXTRACT: Approximately 6 times stronger than sawdust or chips. Use at 20-50% WOF for medium to strong shades. Dissolve in hot tap water and add to dyepot. Adjust pH with Soda Ash as outlined above. Enter premordanted fibre to dye liquor and simmer 1 hour.
$6.60$27.00 Select options
Cochineal, Whole
Cochineal, Whole
Whole dried insects. A scale insect native to Mexico/Central America that feeds exclusively on prickly-pear cactus. Cochineal is a very common source of red food colour with a long historical use. No mordant is required although they will extend the colour range in interesting ways. Use at 3-10% WOF for medium, 10-20% WOF for strong shades. Cochineal is expensive but very generous and can easily give 8 or more successive dips from the same dyebath. Have plenty of fibre ready and waiting! TO USE: grind finely in a coffee grinder (Cochineal is non-toxic but may stain your next pot of coffee). Soak overnight in cold water with 5% Cream of Tartar to WOF. Simmer 15 minutes, cool and strain -- we find a sieve lined with moist paper towel does the trick. Return to pot, add more water if necessary then enter the fibre and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes. Light/washfastness: excellent
$11.00$85.00 Select options
Cutch, Ground Extract
Cutch, Ground Extract
Ground resin extract from Acacia catechu, sometimes called Catechu. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. A source of lovely rich browns and rusts. Substantive but pre-mordanting recommended. Use at 20-50% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: soak 24 hours in water to dissolve, stirring occasionally. Place extract and fibre in dyepot and add more water if necessary. Bring to a high simmer for 1 hour. Let fibre cool in dye liquor for at least one more hour or overnight. Light and washfastness: excellent
$4.29$17.55 Select options
Dyer’s Chamomile
Dyer’s Chamomile
Dried flower heads of Anthemis tinctoria, a perennial garden flower often called Golden Marquerite. This plant is NOT the same as the Chamomile used for tea. Use on protein fibres. With an Alum/c.o.t. mordant this gives a strong yellow. Use at 50-100% WOF for medium to strong shades. Mixed with or dyed under/over Madder this will produce tangerine shades. A traditional dyeplant widely used in Turkish carpets. If you happen to grow the plant simply pick the flowerheads and use fresh, no need to dry them. TO USE: soak in hot water overnight. Simmer 30-60 minutes in soaking liquid. Cool, strain then simmer premordanted fibre for 30-60 minutes. Light and washfastness: good to excellent with a mordant.
$5.50$22.50 Select options
Fustic, Shavings
Fustic, Shavings
Shavings from Chlorophora tinctoria often called Old Fustic. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Requires a premordant. A classic dye that gives bright yellows through to gold or green, depending on the mordant. Use at 30-50% WOF for medium to strong shades. TO USE: soak in water overnight to several days. Simmer 1 hour in soaking liquid. Cool, strain then simmer premordanted fibre for 30-60 minutes. Temperatures of 155-160°F will give the best yellows. Light and washfastness: good to excellent with a mordant.
$12.93$42.30 Select options
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Henna powder
A powder made from the dried leaves of a shrub, Lawsonia inermis, used for centuries as a hair and skin dye in many cultures. Used mainly on protein fibres but also effective on premordanted cellulose fibres. Substantive on wool (no mordant required) but mordants may improve lightfast qualities and copper, iron or tin will alter the resulting colours. By itself Henna produces shades of tan through brown to orange-brown or gold can also be achieved.Use at 50% WOF for medium to strong shades. TO USE: probably best soaked in water overnight. Simmer 1 hour in soaking liquid. Cool, strain then simmer premordanted fibre for 30-60 minutes. Light and washfastness: we're not sure yet, but probably pretty good.
$3.03$12.38 Select options
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Indigo – Pre-reduced

Pre-reduced (or "instant") Indigo comes as freeze-dried crystals, made in India. This saves the dyer the hassle of working with caustic lye to dissolve natural ground indigo into a stock solution.

All that's required to be done is to dissolve the Indigo crystals in a bucket of warm water with Thiourea dioxide (a reducing agent that removes air from the vat), add Soda Ash (dissolved in boiling water) to raise the pH, stir together and wait an hour or two. Do this outside on a nice warm day, or indoors with good ventilation.

$9.70$74.97 Select options
Indigo, Natural Ground
Indigo, Natural Ground
Finely ground powder from Indigofera tinctoria. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. A vat dye, Indigo must be handled in a special way in order for the complex chemical process to occur. It produces a gorgeous range of true blue shades, depending on how many dips are done and how much indigo is used in the vat. The indigo magic will not work with the standard methods used for other natural dyes. TO USE: follow one of the many recipes for setting up an Indigo vat. The internet is a good search source. We stock some of the supplies needed, depending on the method. Thiourea dioxide and Soda Ash are the two most commonly used ingredients, which we stock. Lye is also used sometimes, and due to its caustic nature we will not stock it: any good hardware store sells lye in with the cleaning products. Light and washfastness: excellent.
$11.55$47.25 Select options
Kamala Powder
Kamala Powder
Ground dried fruits of Mallotus philippinensis, sometimes called Lotus Tree. Use on protein fibres. Produces brilliant yellow and orange tones similar to Saffron. Pre-mordanting recommended. Use at 20-30% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: needs alkaline conditions: dissolve in warm water with Soda Ash at 3% WOG. Add wetted, premordanted fibre and simmer at 160-175°F for 1 hour. Cool, then rinse fibre in water with 1 cup of vinegar to neutralize the pH. Light & washfastness: very good.
$4.13$16.88 Select options
Lac, Powdered Extract
Lac, Powdered Extract
Powdered extract from resin produced by the Lac bug, a scale insect that is also the source of natural shellac, native to southern Asia. Best on protein fibres. Lac produces red, crimson and burgundy tones similar to Cochineal but warmer. No mordant is required although they will extend the colour range. Use at 15-20% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: soak overnight in cold water with 5% Cream of Tartar to WOF. Simmer 15 minutes, cool and strain. Add more water if necessary then enter the fibre and simmer for 45 minutes. The dyebath will yield several more dips in softer shades. Light/washfastness: excellent.
$8.80$28.80 Select options
Logwood, Chips
Logwood, Chips
Dried and cured chips from a tropical tree, Haematoxylum campechianum. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Pre-mordanting essential. Produces dramatic pink, blue, maroon and purple to black shades. Use at 20-50% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: place chips in a stocking and soak overnight in cold water. Bring to a simmer for 1 hour, cool and remove stocking. Enter premordanted fibre and simmer for 1 hour. Bath may be used for successive dips, and by the 3rd or 4th dip the colours being yielded change to golds, greens or browns. Light and washfastness: average. Keep dyed fibres away from bright light. NEW: Logwood Extract: this has already been soaked out then reduced down to a powder. It's expensive but very strong and super convenient. Simply weigh out the extract at around 10% weight of fibre for medium shades, or adjust for darker or lighter. Dissolve in a measuring cup with hot (but not boiling) water, add to your dyepot with water, mix well, add your fibre and simmer for an hour.
$9.21$37.69 Select options
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Logwood, Extract
Dried and cured chips from a tropical tree, Haematoxylum campechianum. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Pre-mordanting essential. Produces dramatic pink, blue, maroon and purple to black shades. Use at 20-50% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: place chips in a stocking and soak overnight in cold water. Bring to a simmer for 1 hour, cool and remove stocking. Enter premordanted fibre and simmer for 1 hour. Bath may be used for successive dips, and by the 3rd or 4th dip the colours being yielded change to golds, greens or browns. Light and washfastness: average. Keep dyed fibres away from bright light. NEW: Logwood Extract: this has already been soaked out then reduced down to a powder. It's expensive but very strong and super convenient. Simply weigh out the extract at around 10% weight of fibre for medium shades, or adjust for darker or lighter. Dissolve in a measuring cup with hot (but not boiling) water, add to your dyepot with water, mix well, add your fibre and simmer for an hour.
$23.10$75.60 Select options
Madder, Ground
Madder, Ground
Dried roots of Rubia tinctoria, available ground or whole. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Pre-mordanting recommended. A classic dye, giving dramatic reds, brick-reds to orange and coral. Use at 50-100% WOF (weight of fibre) for medium shades. TO USE: simmer in water below 185°F for 30 minutes. Cool overnight, then repeat simmer and strain. Add more water and enter pre-mordanted fibre. Hold below 158°F for one hour. Higher temperatures may produce browns rather than oranges or reds, so try to avoid bringing to a high simmer or boil. Ground madder is much easier to work with than the whole dried roots.. Light and washfastness: excellent.
$3.52$27.20 Select options
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Madder, Whole
Dried roots of Rubia tinctoria, available ground or whole. Use on protein or cellulose fibres. Pre-mordanting recommended. A classic dye, giving dramatic reds, brick-reds to orange and coral. Use at 50-100% WOF for medium shades. TO USE: simmer in water below 185°F for 30 minutes. Cool overnight, then repeat simmer and strain. Add more water and enter pre-mordanted fibre. Hold below 158°F for one hour. Higher temperatures produce browns. Whole madder is best chopped up first in an old blender, or soaked overnight then ground as best you can in the blender with the soaking liquid. Rita Buchanan once described the process as attempting to break pencils with your bare hands. Despite this, many dyers claim the best colours come from the dried, whole roots. Light and washfastness: excellent.
$6.88$28.13 Select options