Shilasdair - Knockando Heritage Tartan

Posted on April 10, 2014 by Emma Nicolson


We're very excited about this latest warp! This yarn was all naturally dyed on Skye, by Shilasdair Yarns - aren't the colours wonderful! Tony from Shilasdair Yarns has given us some information on each of the colours and how they are produced:

  • Yellow - Principally tansy, gathered from our own croft cop on Skye. Yellow is very difficult as the crop is inconsistent from year to year, owing to variations in growing conditions due  especially to the overall weather pattern for the year. The exact timing of the crop harvest is also important as as this takes place over a period of several weeks and can be affected by local weather conditions in force at the time. For this reason the tansy is supplemented or modified as required by small amounts of  natural dye extracts or derivatives for example  weld and marigold.
  • Orange/Red - The fiery hues of madder produce this tone.  Madder is a root grown in warm climates and ours comes from either Pakistan or India in the form of  the crushed  organic material.   Again there is variation from one consignment to another , just as with our own yellows,  so to improve consistency we use a little madder extract from time to time along with the crushed roots.
  •  Blue - The blue comes uniquely from the one natural dye everyone is familiar with - indigo. Indigo dyeing is a special process quite separate from the simper extract-and-inject operations with  the other dyes.  It happens at a much lower temperature, but requires repeated immersions of the in the indigo bath to attain the required depth of shade.
  • Green - Nothing in nature gives a stable, fast shade of green, so green is produced by over dyeing indigo yarns with yellow as above.

Tonal variation happens with almost all the natural dyes used, because, in layman's terms, they are not engineered by man to have instant affinity for protein fibres, but rather have to be coaxed to donate their pigments.  Variation can be controlled to an extent by the degree to which the yarns are packed in the dye cabinets, and the temperature of injection, but is always present to some degree or other.   It is tonal variation however - along with the vibrancy of the hues produced - which is the signature of natural dyeing.  


Thanks to Tony for letting us in on their natural dyeing secrets, to see more of what Shilasdair Yarns produces head over to their website. We can't wait to see this warp on the loom!


Posted in loom, natural dyes, shilasdair yarns, warp