The more natural dyeing I do, the more I fall in love with the colors I can achieve — or “discover,” I think, is a better word for it — this way. They’re subtle and soft, never harsh. It’s as if they have a story to tell. Those are the kinds of colors I’ve always gravitated towards anyway in my wardrobe and in my home… or, goodness, even in the design of this blog.
And now, when I look at the color palette from the last few days’ dye work at a Finnish lakeside cottage, I realize it’s a very familiar range. Where else have I seen the mossy greens, the purple browns, the soft yellows and greys? All around me, in fact. These yarns have captured the colors of the Nordic forests. The pine bark that goes from grey to a rich warm brown the higher up the trunk you go. The big ice-age rocks covered by grey moss and lichen. The soft, subdued pinks of heather blossoms. The rich range of greens on the forest floor. Fallen pine needles and cones in a range of browns and silvers. The vibrant yellows of chanterelles hidden underneath the grass, waiting to be discovered.
As I hinted at in my blueberry post, I also tried dyeing with blueberries (yes, the actual berries this time). The end result was surprising. I had been expecting pink or purple, or maybe even blueish tones. But the yarn emerged from the vat smokey purple — a complex, shimmering grey or brown or purple, depending on the light and how you look at it. As it happens, this is one of my favorite colors and one I always get compliments for when I wear it. How appropriate that this is the color that my favorite berry makes on wool in the dyer’s magic pot!
From left to right: tansy on alum mordant; tansy on rhubarb leaf mordant; juniper with iron afterbath; birch with iron afterbath; heather with iron afterbath; blueberry on alum mordant; blueberry on iron mordant.