An unexpected blue!!

This dyeing lark can becoming a bit addictive!! Since I started I find myself looking at plants in a whole new light; where before I thought about texture, colour and where the plant would fit in my garden, I now find myself looking at a plant and wondering what colour would it give to my wool? This now also seems to apply to the vegetables I cook!


After my beetroot experiments. someone mentioned red cabbage as another plant that gives unexpected results. Naturally I had to give it a go, so I went back to the greengrocer (he really is a lovely man) and got some cabbage.

While I have no proof that the vikings would have used red cabbage as a dye stuff, it is another example of a colour which my be achieved from using natural dyes.

I used the same principle as the beetroot (twice the weight of dye material to the weight of wool), and the same method of preparing the dyebath.

I used some wool that I had mordanted with alum before, and when I first added the wool I was quite hopeful of getting a pinky rose colour; it looked quite promising.


But one thing that natural dyeing has taught me is that things are seldom as they appear; after half an hour the wool had changed colour again…….. to a more slate blue.


After simmering for an hour, washing and rinsing, here’s what I got…………….. blue! A very nice blue.

It’s another good colour to add to the previous ones.

However I have been told that red cabbage is not completely light fast (and that it may fade in colour). I’ll just have to keep an eye on it and see if that’s true or not.

Now, what else have I lying in my fridge?

4 thoughts on “An unexpected blue!!”

  1. Thank you for this post (and the beetroot one, that saved me a disappointing experiment). It looks like it’s been a while; how have you found the colour-fastness of the cabbage with alum mordant? I would love to get this blue so easily.

    1. It was still blue at the end of the summer (after hanging out at sunny markets!!). But nothing is ever really 100% colourfast. Need to make some more so I’ll let you know if I can replicate the colour 🙂

  2. I have achieved a few nice pink/apricot colours on unmordanted wool using beetroot in vinegar, so far same result as Lady Aine ref colour fastness colour and now in its third year. About 30yrs. back I worked at dying fine ribbon for bespoke perfume bottles we only used things like Alkanet root soaked in alcohol or vinegar and the results still exist and look very ‘Vintage’, in a good way. Not sure our ancestors would have wasted good alcohol on dye baths but it certainly gets colour from hard roots etc far easier and more pure than water can. I wondered about the fabric being damaged but it appears none the worse for being dipped in alcohol.

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