Yew Tree Wood Shavings

While visiting The Manor at Hemingford Grey (see entry on Bracket Fungus for more details) I saw a wonderful spreading yew tree (Taxus baccata) in the secret garden. This reminded me that yew wood shavings can give lovely orange & rust colours in the dyepot. So if you know a woodcarver, or have some other source of yew wood shavings, collect about the same weight of wood shavings to fibres you wish to dye & start off by pouring boiling water over the shavings & leave them to soak overnight.

Then simmer the shavings for about 1 hour & pour off the liquid to make the dyebath. Use wool mordanted in alum – I usually use 10% alum i.e. 10gms alum to 100gms wool – & simmer the wool in the dye solution for about 30 to 45 minutes. Leave to cool before rinsing. You can also experiment with colour modifiers for variations in shade. (See entry on Dahlias for further details).

2 replies
  1. Dorie van Dijk
    Dorie van Dijk says:

    Thanks for this information Jenny. I am living in the Netherlands. Nowadays I’am busy to do experiments with all the material I can found in my garden, if possible without mordants. So I was wondering if you can use all those christmas-green which is used for the christmasflowerarrangements. Except for this yew tree wood (taxus is the latin name) now I assume that I also can use woordshavings from others like Thuja, Juniperus, or Leucothoe? Btw I like your new blog! And for sure I will have a search to your new book Wild Colours.

  2. Bettina
    Bettina says:

    hi Jenny,
    lovely to see that you have a blog now! I became attracted to natural dyeing when your book wild colour first came out – and have been addicted to it ever since! all your fault:)
    btw, I have dyed with yew last summer – but despite soaking the shavings for 2 weeks I only achieved a teddy brown! in my experience longer soaking results in darker colours, but maybe that’s not always the case?
    looking forward to more “natural colour musings”:)) all the best

    Bettina (from ireland)

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