Threads of Peru Blog

Five top tips for natural dyeing

Threads of Peru spent the weekend with our Natural Dyeing expert Señor Melchor to dye the second run of our current collection. We asked Señor Melchor what is top five tips for natural dyeing at home.

Photo credit: Alliyah Wheaton

1. When to collect your roots or plants

To get the most vibrant colors out of your plants or roots, collect your materials when they first spring. In Peru, the best time of year to collect materials is in May.

Let your plants or roots dry out over two to three days and store in a safe and dry place so you can use your materials all year round.

 

2. Quantity Matters

    It is really important to get your quantities of dye to materials right, otherwise you won´t get the color you desire. For example, to make blues or greens, Señor Melchor uses 1 kilogram of kinsa kucho to 100 grams of wool.

    (Kinsa means three and kucho means corner in Quechua as the plant has three leaves.)

     

     

    3. Always dye from dark to light

    If you are planning to dye several shades of the same color, always start from darkest to lightest as the dyes will lose their strength the more you dye.

    Check out our page on how to create different colors using natural dye.

    4. Consider the materials you are dyeing

    If you are dyeing different materials, dye the toughest one first. Here in Peru, Señor Melchor mainly dyes alpaca wool and sheep's wool. He always dyes the alpaca wool first as the wool is stronger and harder to take the dye. Depending on what part of the body the wool comes from will also affect how the dye takes to the wool.

     

    Photo credit: Alliyah Wheaton

     

    5. Mordants... More-whats?

    Mordants bind the natural dye to the material you are dying. Mordants are really important to help obtain the colour you want when you are first dyeing and helps the natural dyes last for years.

     

    Señor Melchor's favorite plant to dye with is ñuñunca which makes a yellow. He said that it is an easy colour to mix with others to create different colours, such as reds and browns. Another benefit to ñuñunca is that you don't need to use a mordant as they have their own natural fixing agents.