What is so special about natural dyes and hand-spun wool?

If you look at an Oriental weaving (rugs, bags, pillow covers, etc) from the 19th C you will notice that the colours have an attractive depth and richness about them. Natural dyes produce a vast range of colours that have a remarkable ability to harmonize with each other. Research into the chemistry of these dyes has shown that in the case of reds from the Madder root there is a cocktail of at least 40 active pigments present in varying degrees The relative percentages of each depends on many factors such as the mineral content of the soil, the age of the root, the dying temperature, and the chemistry of the mordants (minerals that fix the dye to the wool ie: Alum, Ferrous salts). These affect the tone and shade of the colour, and the broad spectrum within each colour makes it much more likely to resonate with other natural dyes.

Hand-spun wool varies in the tightness of the spin and thickness of the thread. This has two results' when dyed the amount picked up varies along the thread, less in the middle of a tightly twisted section. When woven into a rug and the pile trimmed there is a variation of tones and shades that add up to colour block that has depth and richness.

Another effect of hand-spun wool is that due to the variation in the thickness of the thread it introduces an unevenness into the weave that takes the hard edge off lines and borders, which adds a living natural look, rather than the mechanical regularity of machine spun wool.

When these two are added together you get a weaving that has a living, natural, vibrant quality to it that comes from hand crafted work.

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