Last week, we tried our hand at using purple carrots as dye. As promised, I’d like to share my results. Purple carrots are not a light-fast or substantive dye. This means they don’t produce long-lasting color and the dye doesn’t adhere to fiber without a mordant.
The superwash merino I tried didn’t take the color at all. The silk produced a lovely lavender shade, but did not exhaust the dye. This was a fun use of my carrot scraps from my personal garden, but wouldn’t make my list of useful fiber dyes.
Searching for a Better Purple…
Purples are notoriously tricky in the natural dye world. Most of them, like purple carrots, are fugitive. Berries and flowers rarely produce long-lasting results. Purple cabbage isn’t light-fast and the color is subject to change under different pH conditions.
Historically, certain mollusks were the primary source of substantive purple dyes. This is an unlikely option for most modern dyers, in part because of sustainability practices.
One method that takes experimentation and rarely results in the same shade twice is the overdye method. Fiber or yarn is first dyed blue using woad or indigo and it overdyed using a red like madder.
Where else can you find purples in the natural dye world?