So, Not Purple Lichen Dye

I’m not really disappointed.  I did want purple but natural dyeing is all about experimentation and sometimes (or mostly in my case) it doesn’t end up as planned.

Three months ago, yes that was a whole three months, I collected some lichen to use in dyeing.  Now, lichen is a protected species and can only be picked up if it has fallen and unattached itself from its host.  I have to say that it is very abundant here in Cornwall but, even so, I did collect all my lichen from the road where it had fallen following a storm.

Lichen can be used as is to make browns and rusts, but I wanted to attempt purple.   (Apparently the orange coloured lichen you see on stone is the best one to use to make a purple but the green/grey lichen is the one I found and the orange variety does not normally detach itself so was not really an option, although I will keep a look out for any on our walks.)  To extract a purple dye the lichen has to be soaked in ammonia for three months.  So that is what I did, giving it a shake every day.

It did appear to turn purple initially then it went an orange brown.  After three months it was still an orange brown and dyed my Kent Romney handspun a light beige.  So, not purple but it is a colour!  Sadly, I suspect that if I had just used the lichen straight away without fermenting it I might have achieved some brighter rust colours.  Maybe next time.