Last year I posted a recipe for making dye with Stinging Nettles. to check out that post click here. The dye bath from last year turned out to be a lovely, yet light color. I had harvested in the late spring once the nettles were about 16 inches tall. It was pretty, but I wanted to see if I could achieve a darker color this year. Knowing that the color is coming straight out of the leaves I decided to harvest earlier in the season, when the little baby nettle plants were only a couple inches high and were darker in color, which is a mechanism they have to protect against the cold. Harvesting when they were smaller and darker turned out to be the key! My colors were much deeper and richer. Luckily I have a huge patch of nettles by my house so I could harvest plenty and still have a thriving abundant patch remaining.
Here are my most notable observations:
1. The dye baths that were 3:1 ratio and cooked in either a copper or an iron pot turned out the darkest.
2. A 3:1 ratio was significantly better than a 1:1 when using alum mordanted wool.
3. Letting it soak for 24 hours after cooking made a difference.
4. Harvesting nettles when the are small and darker in color is important for getting darker colors.
From left to right: 1:1 ratio of nettles to wool, mordanted in alum; 2:1 ratio of nettles to wool, mordanted in alum; 3:1 ratio of nettles to wool, mordanted in alum; 3:1 ratio of nettles to wool, mordanted in alum and let to soak for 72 hours; 3:1 ratio of nettles to wool cooked in a copper pot; 3:1 ratio of nettles to wool, cooked in an iron pot.
Please post any results or thoughts you have on dyeing with nettles. I’m thrilled and excited to have gotten such beautiful results and can’t wait to do another batch next year… maybe I’ll see what happens if I try it on silk…