Picture of Color Falling to Earth
In the autumn I can hear the plunk, plunk, plunk of walnuts falling from the trees. You sure don't want to be standing under the trees on a windy day! Little green globes fill the grass. Left unnoticed and untouched they will slowly disappear. Not dissolving...but carried away by squirrels to be buried in my gardens. Yes, most will be dug up by the squirrels to have a feast when times are tough, but many will sprout and grow to be little walnut trees---pulled out by me as soon as I find them.

What treasure lies within these nuts! Not only tasty nutmeats to make cookies and cakes, but the color of the earth is easily transferred to yarn, fabric, or basket making materials.

Walnut dyes have been used for centuries. The process is fairly simple..just takes some time and patience... and a walnut tree.

I dyed basket reed, 100% cotton fabric, and handspun wool yarn.
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Step 1: Making the Dye

Picture of Making the Dye
dyepot 2-2.jpg
walnuts in dye pot-2444.jpg
testing dye-2.jpg
1. Gather walnuts when they fall from the trees. I went out every day to pick a few up, gathering about half a 5-gallon bucket.
2. I used the whole nuts, as I was not going to process them for the nutmeats. If you want to use the nutmeats put on rubber gloves and remove the hulls from the nuts.
3. Place the hulls/walnuts in a cooking pot (one you only use for dyes--never to be used for cooking again) and cover with water.
4. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for an hour to two. I did this on a small butane burner outside, as it is rather smelly. Take off the heat and let the nuts soak over night.
5. Strain the liquid into another container.
6. Do not put the nuts or hulls in the compost pile, as the toxins will interfere with the growth of certain plants (mainly in the nightshade family--tomatoes, peppers, etc.)
marianna.brough made it!2 months ago

Mine turned out nicely, I used some old Lion Brand Fisherman's wool and made the dyed yarn into a bag. All the pics are on Ravelry:

Dry yarn wound into balls & skeined 2.JPG
cookery (author) 2 years ago
You're welcome. Glad you are inspired to try it. Just go really slowly on raising the heat on the roving and it should be fine. I've done it before. I'll try to post more next summer when the garden is in full force. Working out of the midwest...
flyingpuppy2 years ago
I love you! Can you post more natural die ideas? This is so cool! Thank you. I will timidly try to die some wool roving and hope it doesn't felt in the process.
Beautiful! I love the color you get from the walnuts and it's nice to know how to get it lighter or darker :)
cookery (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
Thanks. Those natural colors are so harmoious to each other and fit into everyone's life. Love them all...