Natural dyeing: horse chestnut husks

I promised I’d show you some more of my experiments with natural dyeing.

Let me first show you the result and then I’ll tell you how I did it.


Close to my home there are plenty of horse chestnuts. The fresher the husks are the better. I could actually hear – and feel- them drop while I was collecting these.


Let’s number the skeins from left to right.

The recipes are for a skein of 100 grams.

Skein 1 and 2:
-Collection date and place: September 16 near home (center of Belgium); Depending on the time of year and the place, result can be different;
-No mordants;
-Boil 250 grams (skein 1) or 130 grams (skein 2) of husks with 1 table spoon of ammonia for 1h and let it cool down;
-Take the dyeing material out of the bath; that’s not essential for the recipe but I don’t like my yarn to get filled with dyeing material; this could become a problem when the dyeing material is tiny;
-Boil the yarn for 1h in the dye bath and let it cool down;
-Rince the yarn until the water runs clear and let it dry;
-Result: brown-red brick;



Skein 4:
As above except:
-Mordant 15% alun;
-100 grams of husks and no ammonia;
-Result: peach;

Skein 3:
-As skein 4;
-In addition, afterbath with 3 grams of iron;
-Result: teak;


18 thoughts on “Natural dyeing: horse chestnut husks

    • I agree! It was surprising to see how totally different the outcome can be, even using the same dyestuff. I was really surprised to see the peach color.
      Great fun!

  1. Fascinating. (And the results are truly beautiful.) I’m really trying to resist learning to spin or dye because knitting/crochet/blogging/life takes up too much time already, so I love enjoying such things vicariously through posts like this. The yarn looks gorgeous in those subtle, natural shades.

    • I totally understand! Believe me, I wanted to resist too because I just KNEW I would only broaden the yarn/fibre/knitting addiction.
      I’m afraid that’s exactly what happened. And sure enough, there’s no stopping now.

  2. Pingback: Holiday knitting | February Twelve

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