Walnut Mary – the colour changing cardigan

I do not have much of a success story with natural dyeing. I get this fanciful idea in my head that I can experiment and this usually ends in yarn the same colour as when I started.

Take my recent attempts with a cardigan I knitted.


Walnut Mary was knitted in pure undyed wool which I had a vision of dyeing  with some lovely honesty flowers from my garden.

Honesty (Lunaria)

Honesty (Lunaria)

The water became a stunning shade and my hopes were high that I would get a beautifully coloured cardigan. It stayed in the pot over night and came out exactly the same colour it had gone in. But the water was beautiful!

Honesty water

Honesty water

Then I attempted some moss dyeing from a favorite tree which had fallen in the winter…

I tried to convince myself that the smell of damp, mouldy woodland that filled my kitchen would be worth it. Once again I was left very disappointed. I had a slightly greeny grey cardigan which smelled to high heaven.

Post moss dyeing

Post moss dyeing

Finally I decided to give in and try crushed Walnut shells.

My kitchen smelled divine and the colour which came from the warm soaking shells was stunning. Almost the instant that the shells touched the water a deep brown shade drifted into the pan. Just the act of stirring the concoction was a delight. It looked almost like velvet; thick and soup like and with such richness.

I dared not believe it would work – but this time, I seemed to have hit the nail on the head.

a # sk.djh 035

a # sk.djh 045

a # sk.djh 044

The moral of this story? Buy “Wild Colour” by Jenny Dean and actually learn about what I’m trying to achieve.

Have you had any dyeing disasters? What is your favorite natural dye? Which natural dyeing books would you recommend?

<a href=”http://www.ravelry.com/badges/redirect?p=mary-mary-5″><img src=”http://api.ravelry.com/badges/projects?p=mary-mary-5&amp;t=.gif&#8221; style=”border: none;” /></a>


About woodlandknitter

Who am I? A Mummy first a foremost to my two children, Toby and Emily. We took the decision to home educate the children after Toby had many problems within state education. Unable to send them to a Steiner school at present we base their education around the Waldorf ethos. This is working out wonderfully so far and we wish we had done it sooner. Secondly I am a fibre obsessive. Knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing or just generally stroking, anything goes. You can usually find us in the woods or up a hill, by the ocean's edge or climbing trees. Follow the little trail of yarn clippings and there we will be, me with some form of fibre in my bag at all times. #118 We try to live a simple, natural and holistic lifestyle, making sure that we connect to nature daily. Fairy tales and seeking out the enchanted in everyday life is a big part of our lives, as is plenty of craft and art. I am a new member of a medieval re-enactment group, the House of the Black Star and have met some amazing people through it. I have much to learn from them. In this blog I hope to inspire and share with you the things which inspire me. Feedback is always enjoyed and appreciated. Comments on my blog are always loved! I hope a little woodland magic makes you happy today! #037 Find me on facebook Ravelry Craftsy Etsy Pinterest
This entry was posted in craft adventures, Dyeing, Fibres, knitting, nature and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Walnut Mary – the colour changing cardigan

  1. Lisa says:

    I tried to dye some wool red and had no success… Well some small areas came out a light pink but most of it just stayed exactly the same… The walnuts turned out a fantastic brown, yay! Might have to have a read of the book you mentioned. Xx

  2. Wow the final piece is gorgeous! I have had varying success with natural dyeing. See my posts on Eco printing for success. I’ve had a nice purple from purple cabbage with alum mordant I think.
    Happy in creativity. Love your posts

  3. Hi, the necklace was my Mum’s back in the 70s, the cardi I knitted and the skirt was from ‘God’s gift Emporium’ in Glastonbury 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s