Thursday, 30 July 2020


2 days of chemistry, that I was very much looking forward too. I hadn’t dyed with woad for some time - actually 2005 when I looked it up. This year 3 plants germinated, low germination rate but they grew well and have grown brilliantly since being put out in the garden. 

I thought it was about time to do some dyeing with them. The first day was a long day as I needed to find some suitable yarn, make up skeins etc. I knew the method I was going to follow, having read endless books about it. I worked on one of Jill Godwin’s methods, and scaled it down to something I thought realistic as a trial. It was a long day and the skeins were very pale. Initially I was only dyeing one 5g skein so overload of the Vat was not the problem. I couldn’t see anything was amiss, I got an amazing dark ‘sherry’ colour when I had squeezed the woad out as hard as I could. 

I read the books again , Cardon (1) as usual being the best for confirming the process and explaining why each stage is needed. 

Not enough dye material I thought so I increased that the second day by about seven times! The result is better, whether it is 7 times deeper  in the scale of woad depth is questionable. 

It is incredibly hard to get the tones spot on in a photo! 

I am pleased the dyeing is so even. (2)

I can imagine any of the colours in delicate Shetland shawls but to be honest I would rather dye with indigo where I feel I am in control of the colour and spend the other day and a half knitting, working on a fine lace shawl, whether it be spinning or knitting. I am  very much a natural dyer  but, and I know this will upset some, woad is my least favourite dye. I know why it is 15 years since I nurtured the plants, extracted the dye and dyed with woad. 


  1. By ‘Cardon’ I mean Natural Dyes by Dominique Cardon. Often copied by other dye books and Natural  Dyers, not all who give credit to her! 
  2. The white flecks in some of the yarn are in a yarn labelled as 70% lambswool 20% angora 10% nylon. I think the nylon must be another man made fibre as nylon should dye as wool. It reminds me of the silk, which turned out not to be silk when I got the microscope on the fibres. (post of 1June20) Is this poor labelling (the polite way to put it) common in mixed yarns? 

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