Ladies bedstraw - Galium verum

Red colours are difficult to get from nature.  Madder root is one of the best known plants for this, but it is not a native of Iceland.  Galium verum, however, is a member of the Madder family and a native and was used to get red tones.

The roots of the plant are very slender, so it does take quite a lot of effort to get them.  I only managed to dig up a little bit of the roots, but tried to use it for dye anyway.  The result slightly disappointing, but that is most likely because I wasn't watching the dye pot carefully enough and the wool started to boil.  That is not good.  It makes the colour browner than it would otherwise be, besides felting the wool.

All red colours should be dyed at a slightly lower temperature than simmer in order to get the most red dyes.  There are both yellow and red dyes in the roots and I may try to use the dye material a second time and see if I get redder tones.

It shouldn't come as a surprise how much colour the unmordanted yarn took, since roots contain tannins that work as mordants.  The Alum mordanted wool is a redder shade, but the Rhubarb mordant gives a yellower tone.

The Iron gave a light brown and the copper turned the yarn a greyish brown.  I like both of those colours and am slightly amused by my new appreciation of all shades of browns and greys.  The acid lightened the colors quite considerably, while the alkaline didn't really change the colour that much.

The flower tops of the plant can also be used to get a yellow colour so I might try that next year.


  1. Happy New year! A lot of joy, love, happiness and new wonderful creations!

  2. I would love to know about the photo in this blog, the name of the book and where do you get the binder to put the wool samples that you have naturally dyed? I have just started spinning and am an avid gardener and herbalist, but am wanting to get a bit organized! LOVE this bog!! :)

  3. The binder is an old office binder, but I had the punched cars in A4 made up for me especially. It's just slightly stiff carton, punched in a few select places and turned inwards about 3 centimeter. The books are two of my favorites: Jenny Dean, Wild Colour, and Dye Plants and Dyeing by John and Margaret Cannon and illustrated beautifully by Gretel Dalby-Quenet.
    I'm nt the most organized person myself so I was very pleased to figure out some system to use :)


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