Natural dyeing is complicated and time consuming but the outcome is so worth it. This week I've been dyeing Merino wool scarves with cochineal.
The cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus) lives on the prickly pear cactus and is collected by brushing the insects off the plants. Crushing and boiling the dried insects results in a beautiful red natural dye.
Because these Merino scarves started with a grey base colour, over-dyeing them with cochineal has resulted in a rich lilac colour.
The video below shows the process I've gone through to create this vibrant colour.
Cochineal has been used as a dye for centuries. The botanical drawing below shows a man harvesting cochineal. It was created by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez, who lived in the 1700s.
You can see the rich lilac colour as the scarves dry on the rack after dyeing:
Next I'll be dyeing Merino wool scarves with Weld and with Eastern Brazilwood. Stay tuned.