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Spinning, Dyeing with Natural Colors

Spinning is a very old technique in which fibers get twisted to create a more durable thread. This thread can than be used for knitting, crocheting, weaving,... .

A spindle or a spinning wheel can be used for spinning. Using a spindle, the process of twisting and winding the produced yarn is separated, but a spinning wheel can simultaneously twist and wind up the produced yarn. I mainly use sheep wool for spinning and I love this (if you have some practice) very relaxing activity.

To dye the produced wool with natural colors, it must first be treated with metal salts (for example alum) which helps binding the wool and the plant color. Only green walnut shells color so strongly that it does not need any pretreatment. The plant parts (walnut or birch leaves, flasks, alchemilla, heather, onion husks, and many others) are generally boiled. The wool then gets added to the resulting brew. Many plants color yellow, green, or brown, but there are also some red-coloring e.g. madder-root and some blue-coloring, the famous indigo (in Europe it was originally dyed using dye-waid which contains a similar dye in a lower concentration) which requires a special dyeing process because it is not water-soluble.