What do I do with all my dyed samples?

This is a question I am frequently asked and I’m afraid that the majority of my samples remain in cupboards until required for talks or displays. Some of them are fixed into sample books, of course, or made into display boards. But believe me, I really do have a large amount of dyed yarns, so when I can no longer find space for them all, I take some of them to the knitting workshops I occasionally lead and invite students to help themselves. It is a real pleasure to tip out the contents of bags and boxes onto the table and watch as students select the colours they find most to their taste.

When I do get round to using my dyed yarns, I like to design my own knitwear & chart my own multi-coloured patterns, sometimes for cushions or bags and sometimes for jackets. However, complicated patterns are usually for jacket borders and cuffs only, as I rarely have the patience to knit an entire garment in charted, stranded knitting. However, I plan to knit a jacket using only colours from mushrooms and I have been experimenting with colour designs.

img_17201This is a sample of a design I charted and then knitted using only colours achieved from Cortinarius semisanguineus used without a mordant



img_1725This is part of a sample knitted from a design I charted using colours from Cortinarius semisanguineus achieved on alum-mordanted wool.

This is the design I plan to use as an all-over pattern for my next jacket.

                                                                                                                                                             img_17332This is a close-up of a section of the design above.






This cushion was knitted using only yarns dyed with madder. Some of the skeins have been modified for colour variations. The purple shade was achieved using an iron mordant followed by a washing soda modifier.  The recipe is in my latest book “Colours from Nature”. For more details click on “My Books” on the home page.


This is another cushion knitted using only yarns dyed with madder. The patterns on both cushions are traditional Turkish sock designs. This one uses a typical Turkish sock technique of working the pattern design itself in the same colour throughout and changing the background colour.

5 replies
  1. Colin Walton
    Colin Walton says:

    Amazing! where on earth do you get all the energy from? I love the idea of giving away the samples – that’s really sweet.

    I wonder if there is a way of just keeping to all the tones from one source – Woad say and then using all the different wools together to make a cushion, throw or patchwork that maybe features the name of the plant, or perhaps the pattern of the leaves?


  2. Beth Grim
    Beth Grim says:

    Thanks for sharing! Really awesome and lovely. I haven’t tried much stranded knitting, yet, but you’re inspiring me.
    I recently bought your book “Colours from Nature”, and I like it a lot; so much information, yet concise and well organized. I’m looking forward to the dyeing season starting up again this summer, so as to try out some things from your book.

  3. cedar
    cedar says:

    they are all very wonderful…I love to do the stranded, although I am new to it …I loved that you put all the semi sanquineas together and the pillows are wonderful…great way to show off all the variation of colors…nice work

  4. Sue
    Sue says:

    Beautiful! Those cushions are really inspiring. I can’t wait for the spring and warmer days so that I can get out into the old dye workshop again.

  5. angella
    angella says:

    thoroughly lovely. i’m always facinated that just one dyestuff can produce so many variations. i’ve recently discovered iron (as i dye only celulose fibers, i was a tannin/alum purist before) and am currently discovering olives from my onion skins, purples form my madder, and charcoals from my logwood.

    it’s just so fun!

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