June 14, 2019 5 min read

Hand dyed yarn - Natural dyes

Our hand dyed yarn and other fabrics including cotton, cotton and silk blends and linen, are all 100% natural fibre. They are a renewable, sustainable, biodegradable and are an environmentally friendly product.

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We hand dye only with 100% natural dyes at the FelinFach Dye Studio - we do not use synthetic or dye colours. We also hand dye other wool and fabrics including alpaca, mohair, goat, linen and silk. Our yarns are either Welsh or UK fleece and sourced from farms or smallholdings local to us in Pembrokeshire or the UK. We are an official supporter of the worldwide Campaign for Wool and by buying locally when we can, we are supporting our sheep farmers. We prepare hand dyed sock yarn and hand dyed speckled yarn.

Hand dyed yarn - Dyed with 100% natural dye colours

We only use yarn of the highest quality which we then hand dye and hand finish using water from springs at our Mill for the final wash and rinse. 

Hand dyed yarn with 100% natural dyes - Yak YarnHand dyed yarn with 100% natural dyes - Bluefaced Leicester sock yarn Hand dyed yarn with 100% natural dyes - Bluefaced Leicester Gotland yarn

Our interest in hand dyed yarn stems from not being able to find the right yarn for the project in the right colour, tone or shade. Once you have that colour in your head or ‘ideas’ journal it is hard to let it go. My journey began using acid dyes – not as bad as it sounds, these dyes need an acidic ingredient to bind to the yarn or fabric e.g. vinegar. Out of curiosity we tried the natural dyes, once we had we were hooked.  Whilst the synthetic dyes are easier and definitely less time consuming to use the colours achieved using natural dye make it so worthwhile. There is a beauty and depth of colour to natural dyes that become even more beautiful with age. We use only natural dyes in our process Indigo, Madder, Weld, etc and our fixing agent is Alum, a nontoxic water-soluble metallic salt that has many different uses in day-to-day life.

The difficulty in obtaining consistency between dye baths can be an issue but we believe this is a part of the charm in using natural dye - never quite knowing what the results will be and usually being pleasantly surprised!

Botanical Plant-Based Natural Dyes

A natural progression from dyeing yarn was to dye, block and screen print my fabric. This is definitely a labour of love and patience! To convert dye extract into ink or paint at the correct consistency and the patience needed waiting for the fabric to cure before you can see the result is not one of my strong points but for the most part well worth the wait. Indigo vat is a process all its own also worthwhile for the results can be stunning and we don’t need to wait too long! 

As everyone will know the art of natural dyeing has been in use for centuries and it was only about 150 years ago that synthetic dyes became dominant. We use the traditional dyes of madder, indigo, cutch, lac,logwood and natural mordants Alum, tannins Myrobalan or oak.No natural dye is 100% resistant to fading (the same is also true of some synthetic dyes). Under normal use, care and wear any fading would only be visible over a long period of time. I think this only adds to the charm of natural dye as the colours become softer.

Hand Dyed Yarn UK - A Crafted Wool Product

We dye in small numbers to ensure quality of dye uptake and to try and ensure a consistent colour between skeins. Although acid dyes is the most popular method to dye wool or fabric, hand dyed yarn, dyed with natural plant-based dyes remains a hand crafted product, sometimes unique but always never mass produced. 

We choose to work with the finest yarns in the weaving of our blankets and also in our natural Dye Studio. By using excellent quality natural fibre, including Welsh wool, Welsh yarn, British yarn and luxury yarn, and by sourcing pure botanical natural extracts, we are able to produce beautiful hand dyed yarn. The colours from natural dyes are enthralling, each will depend on where the dyestuff was grown, how it was harvested, the fibres being dyed, and the method of application we use.

It takes time, knowledge and patience but we love what we are able to do at the Dye Studio and hope that this comes through in the yarns. Hand dyed yarn colours, dyed with natural dyes may be repeated but they can never be exactly the same - part of the beauty of a handmade product!

We have a selection of 4 Ply, Aran, DK/Worsted and Lace hand dyed yarn available in 50 gram or 100 gram skeins and also in a undyed skeins. 

Hand dyed yarn with 100% natural dyes - no synthetic dyes colours used

This is a hand-crafted product and therefore it is possible for there to be shade differences between skeins. It is recommended to alternate the skeins every few rows to avoid striping of colour or shade. Normal care should be given to avoid felting and stretching of the yarn.

It is also recommended that all yarn be hand washed with a pH neutral detergent in cool water with least agitation. Natural dye can be pH sensitive which means due to the acidity or alkalinity in some normal detergents the yarn colour would be modified or changed. This is also why you should never rinse naturally dyed yarn or fabric with vinegar, mistakenly believed as a way of fixing colour as this would also bring about a colour change.

No natural dye is 100% resistant to fading (the same is also true of some synthetic dyes) Under normal use, care and wear any fading would only be visible over a long period of time. We believe this only adds to the charm of natural dye as the colours become softer. However, if you store our yarn, fibre or fabric in a sunny, south facing window or under a high-intensity lamp then we cannot guarantee the colours will remain true.

About FelinFach

Our company, FelinFach Natural Textiles is located in the heart of the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire near to Boncath. We design Welsh blankets, Welsh woolen blankets and throws which are traditionally woven at Welsh mills. We also design and make natural hand dyed yarn, cotton, silk and wool scarves and other handmade products. We are a proud supporter of the Campaign for Wool, Global Welsh and Wales International.

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