Dyeing with Blackberries

by Cynthia on September 15, 2011

The blackberries growing in and around my garden are now way past their prime with all the heat we had last week. They are far too overripe for eating and preserving. Seeing that it seemed like such a waste I decided to go out the other day and pick all that was left. Extremely berry stained fingers later, I ended up with enough berries to dye 4 ounces of wool and one silk scarf and even freeze some for later use.

I had previously applied an alum mordant to both the wool yarn and the scarf.


To make the dye, I first mashed up the berries before adding them to my pot of water. I then brought this berry mixture to just under a simmer for about 30 minutes. I was very careful to not get the dye bath too hot as this would make the berries a more tannish color due to the tannins being released. I allowed this berry stew-like mixture to cool overnight before I strained it and added it back to my dye pot.

I then added my wet fibers to the dye bath and turned the heat on slowly. As soon as the dye bath was just under a simmer I turned off the heat and allowed my fibers to stay in the dye pot for a full 24 hours before removing them and rinsing them.


As you can see the silk scarf really took up the color of the blackberries. It is such a rich shade of plum. It amazes me how much it looks just like the blackberry juice stains you get on your hands from picking berries! The wool yarn is also a lovely shade of purple. It is not quite so vivid and maybe a tad bit more gray but still beautiful nonetheless.

All in all, I am very pleased with the results I achieved and will definitely be using blackberries to dye with again. This would even be great for children to attempt seeing that the berries are rather easy to gather and collect.

If you try this out yourself be sure to let me know (or better yet send me a picture!) I love to hear about everyone’s natural dye adventures.

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