Natural Dyeing with Cutch, Rhubarb and Indigo

Natural Dyeing with Cutch, Rhubarb and Indigo

This summer I’ve been playing with a lot of natural dyes with the help of Cathy (Luvswool).  This is the third in my series of natural dyeing experiments.

As with the other dyeing sessions all the silk and wool rovings were mordanted with alum potassium sulfate.  I used the same silk habotai, silk gauze, silk organza, merino and corriedale roving and wool yarn as I did in my previous experiments.

I started with cutch which was in powder form.


The colors for silk and wool were pretty much the same gold peach except for the the organza which seemed to soak up all the color.



I decided that I wouldn’t use a modifier with the Cutch because I had enough browns and goldens.

So, I moved on to rhubarb liquid extract.


The resulting colors were also in the peach/gold family.

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A couple of years ago Cathy and I had an indigo dyeing day.  I had a piece of dark crimped silk left over and decided to use this as a modifier for the second rhubarb batch.


I thought perhaps I’d get a muted green, but here’s what I did get:

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There is a hint of green, but it’s not obvious in these pics. the silk gauze and habotai closest to a light turquoise.  The organza is dusky turquoise blue.  The wool is more of a baby blue.

Here is the indigo silk piece after being used as a modifier.  Still a nice indigo color.


Have you done any natural dyeing this season?

16 thoughts on “Natural Dyeing with Cutch, Rhubarb and Indigo

    1. I guess we’ll find out how fugitive these colors are when they are felted. I’ve also read when using fruits like blueberry they are fugitive. Let us know how well your blackberry holds up over on the forum. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. Shades of yellow does seem to be the most common colour in natural dying. I would never have thought to use a piece of indigo dyed cloth as a modifier, very cool. I wonder if the cochineal would work too?

    1. It was one of those moments of “why not.” That’s the fun of these experiments. 🙂 I did try cochineal which I’ll address in a future post. I certainly have a big variety of yellows, golds and peach now.

  2. All of the shades you achieved are lovely, and I am also glad to see you tried modifying the indigo dyed silk to achieve a different color. BTW, we are long overdue for another indigo vat experience.
    That was way back in the summer of 2014!

  3. Hi!I am Mary. Nice to talk to you! Start two years ago making nuno felt clothes and scarves and eco printing on cotton.I love it!Could you pls tell me if the light grey colour fabric i saw is still available.Is it silk gauze or what and what is the price pls.I interesting to make long scarves or use it for nunofelt vest. Thank you Mary

    1. Hi Mary! Welcome to our blog. The light color in today’s blog is a light blue. If you are referring to a previous post, I did have several shades of gray on silk gauze, organza and habotai. The pieces are small and unfortunately, I don’t sell my work. You may want to check out Etsy. They have plenty of vendors who sell hand dyed silk. Thanks for commenting. Stop by our forum and show us some of your Nuno projects.

  4. Interesting how the blues came out so muted, Marilyn. I’d expect them to be really dark, like most of the indigo dyeing I’ve seen. Did you add enough dye to the pot?
    And isn’t it an alchemic magic when you see the green turn to blue as soon as air hits the fabric? 😀

    1. Thanks Leonor! You can see how dark the indigo piece was before putting it in the pot with the rhubarb in the seventh pic down. The last pic is after using it as a modifier. I didn’t know what to expect, but was pleased with the results although I was hoping for a greenish color. But surprise is half the fun. Indigo dyeing is fun, but a lot of work. Cathy and I did it two years ago and it was an all day affair. But I agree it is magic watching the color change. 🙂

  5. You got some nice colours, Marilyn 🙂
    They remind me of the shades I got when I dyed Bamboo fibre with acid dyes. I love all the commercial dyed fibres and fabrics available, but home dyeing gives much more varied and unique colours and shades doesn’t it?

  6. Thanks Zed! I agree the home dyeing can provide some unique results. The problem is duplicating it if you love the results. :-). I need to keep better notes, but when I get caught up in the process… I usually forget.

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