Ivy as a Natural Dye Material

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Ivy; there’s tons of it growing over my yard wall, and Bob had asked what colours we would get with the leaves and berries. So I decided to give it a go.

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I had tried this a couple of months ago without the berries. But this time I wanted to include them so I needed to wait until they had ripened. I hadn’t taken any photos last time, but the results were much the same.

I used the same procedure as with the other dyestuffs; twice the weight of dye material to wool. Also I let the twigs, leaves and berries soak for a week to get the maximum amount of dye in the pot.

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As usual I had pre-mordanted the wool with Alum. I wanted to dye 300g of Aran weight wool.
When I added the wool initially there was no significant change to the colour.

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After an hour, there was a definite change in colour, but not the green I had hoped for. Instead I got a yellow; nice but not what I had wanted.

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So I added copper sulphate to the pot (2 teaspoons per 100g wool), and continued to simmer for a further hour. This gave a better result. It’s green, but still not the green I had wanted. In real life it’s a slightly darker; below is a photo I took in natural daylight the following day, after the wool had dried.

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Last year using the same ivy plant I got a great green that I used in a hat for Bob. This was a different type of wool, and a different year, so that may account for the difference. My little nettle patch is growing, so I plan on trying those for a green……..

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7 thoughts on “Ivy as a Natural Dye Material”

    1. No, haven’t tried berries only – but I will next time.
      I was aiming for the colour I got last year, but as you know there are no guarantees with natural dyeing! It’s a different wool from last year, and I think that may be part of it.
      The colours in the photos aren’t really true to real as I would like, and the colour changed overnight again as the dried wool was exposed to air, so it is closer. And it is quite a nice colour 🙂

    1. Yes, possibly it would have. Good suggestion, and another I will try in the future 🙂
      But I got a lovely green last year from the same plants and was trying to replicate it. But as you know, natural dyes are anything but reliable……. Also I used a different wool, which I have found affects dyes in the past.
      Thank you for the feedback Hazel – I always appreciate hearing form other dyers who have done this…. there is always something for me to learn 😀

  1. Thank you for the in fo. I have never dyed but doing a course on the 28th with friends. So want to use all natural plants. Have loads of lovely ivy about.So will soak it well. Must buy more buckets.!!! Your observations really help. Thank you x

  2. so can you make a very strong dye using just the ivy leaves without the berries? also to make the dye do you just add twice the amount of water to the amount of ivy (or whatever you are using to create the dye) then simmer that for an hour?

    1. The leaves didn’t work great as a dye if I remember correctly.
      I steeped the leaves stalks and berries in a pan with enough water to cover them. I didn’t measure it out. And the only reason I got a green was because of the copper sulphate.

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