…And your father smelled of elderberries

I’ve wanted to dye with berries for a long time. Why? They are rarely in plant dyeing books, so I wanted to see if they are as inept for dyeing as people say.
Elderberries come in the edible kind and the kind that I’ve heard is ”poisonous”. I believe that both kinds can be used for dyeing. Anyhow I’ve got a tree right outside the house and on the other side of the house is the freeway E4. That means my neighbours won’t use the berries for jam.

The tree and my helper

Picking the berries is best done in a bucket. A basket will get stained.


Trying to only get the berries in the pot



I always forget to use gloves. I looked like this for a couple of days, mostly my lefty hand got stained…

A normal kitchen utensil is very helpful; here I used a potato masher.

The eldeberry ”porridge” was separated to remove the possibilities to get stains from the berries.

At this time it was very late at night and I went to sleep. The juice ended up in the bucket for 2-3 days. Coming home from work, wondering why my flat smelled like a winery, I suddenly realised that the juice hade started to ferment, on its own. It was time to dye.

Yeast bubbles!

First I needed to prepare the yarn. Washing is essential! And then I used alum as a mordant, 15%.



I also had some white woollen clothes that my son have already stained quite badly so I tried to dye them too. The top was 100% natural, no mordant. The trousers I had prepared with alum. I know that these clothes will be washed plenty of times. If the dye stays on these, it’s a dye to count on.

Here’s the top after being washed 2 times. A bit more brown/grey/purple than the yarn. Sixten is holding the wool detergent that I always use when washing wool in machine. It’s called Sonett. You can get at http://www.ekotextil.se.



What will I use the yarn for? It might become a bit of a blanket.
Once again – I’m sorry for the phone blogging. It’s really ugly, bare with me.


5 reaktioner på ”…And your father smelled of elderberries

  1. Pingback: Maria dyes with elderberries | Albrechts Bössor

  2. I’m surprised you got such a bright colour out of the berries. I’d be very interested to see how the dye fares with washing and also with sun bleaching. Perhaps you could tape a small piece to some cardboard, cover half of it with light-proof cardboard/paper and leave the whole thing on a windowsill. Then you could see how it fades and compare it to the original colour.


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