gather and grow

Homegrown, hand-spun living in the city

colorsoftheforestThe more natural dyeing I do, the more I fall in love with the colors I can achieve — or “discover,” I think, is a better word for it — this way. They’re subtle and soft, never harsh. It’s as if they have a story to tell. Those are the kinds of colors I’ve always gravitated towards anyway in my wardrobe and in my home… or, goodness, even in the design of this blog.

And now, when I look at the color palette from the last few days’ dye work at a Finnish lakeside cottage, I realize it’s a very familiar range. Where else have I seen the mossy greens, the purple browns, the soft yellows and greys? All around me, in fact. These yarns have captured the colors of the Nordic forests. The pine bark that goes from grey to a rich warm brown the higher up the trunk you go. The big ice-age rocks covered by grey moss and lichen. The soft, subdued pinks of heather blossoms. The rich range of greens on the forest floor. Fallen pine needles and cones in a range of browns and silvers. The vibrant yellows of chanterelles hidden underneath the grass, waiting to be discovered.


As I hinted at in my blueberry post, I also tried dyeing with blueberries (yes, the actual berries this time). The end result was surprising. I had been expecting pink or purple, or maybe even blueish tones. But the yarn emerged from the vat smokey purple — a complex, shimmering grey or brown or purple, depending on the light and how you look at it. As it happens, this is one of my favorite colors and one I always get compliments for when I wear it. How appropriate that this is the color that my favorite berry makes on wool in the dyer’s magic pot!  IMG_2166

From left to right: tansy on alum mordant; tansy on rhubarb leaf mordant; juniper with iron afterbath; birch with iron afterbath; heather with iron afterbath; blueberry on alum mordant; blueberry on iron mordant.

13 thoughts on “The colors of the forests

  1. Wow so soothing to wear! My dream… Would you by any chance sell organic clothing online?

    1. Mari says:

      Thanks for asking. I don’t sell clothing, at least not yet… but I’m thinking about scaling up in the next year and maybe starting to sell some of my naturally dyed textiles online — most likely yarns. Stay tuned!

      1. I will 🙂 I just hope that I won’t miss your post as I am not too regular lately with all the painting I am doing lately… Thanks!

      2. Mari says:

        Hi! Since you inquired a few months ago, I wanted to let you know that I’ve now opened a small Etsy shop where I sell my naturally dyed yarns. See my most recent post, or go directly to

        Thanks again for your interest!


      3. Thank you! I will check it for sure! I am in the process of opening a shop and wondered how to go about it. Any advice? I am quite at loss and didn’t understand the fees system, the shipping and taxes, and I am ashamed to admit that I even had difficulty adjusting the thumbnail photo I had put of my painting which came out cropped. I tried but was not very successful 😦

      4. Mari says:

        I’m just figuring out Etsy myself… I recommend taking a look at the Etsy seller’s handbook, which has articles on almost all of the topics you mention. Maybe they also have online support? — I’m not sure. Good luck! 🙂

      5. Thanks! Much appreciated ☺

      6. I checked it just now, but didn’t see any ready made clothes & realise that you had only mentioned yarns. I wish I worked with that but the only thing I know how to do are mufflers 😉 & I have provided all my close ones with one a few yrs ago in a muffler frenzy but the idea of being able to buy naturally dyed yarns is an amazing one & I wish you a whole load of success in it!

  2. Anna says:

    I adore the colors natural dyes produce and am breathtaken by the skeins in your photos. I’ve never attempted it myself, though, mainly because I don’t know what I’d do with the yarn. I don’t knit and can’t really wear wool. I’m open to suggestions
    … 🙂

    1. Mari says:

      Anna, you can also dye fibers other than wool! Cotton, linen and silk also take natural dyes. The process is a little different, and the hues may be lighter, but it can be done for sure.

  3. Those colours are coming along so nicely!

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