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Natural Dye Kit: Dye-Lishus® Nature’s Paintbox


So today I’ll be demoing Nature’s Paintbox which contains Dye-Lishus Cotton® with Aquarelle Plant Extract® liquid dyes in a kit. So the cool thing about Dye-Lishus Cotton® is that it has been pre-mordanted to accept dyes- you just need hot water soap the yarn and dyes. The dyes just need to be added to hot (not boiling) water.

The steps are as follows

  1. Wash your yarn – hot soapy water
  2. Soak your yarns – 30-40 min till cotton sinks
  3. Mix dye with Hot water
  4. Wrung out skeins are dipped into water to soak in dye bath for 15 minutes. Want darker color give it another 15 minutes!
  5. Take out and wrap in plastic wrap: You can then microwave the yarn for 15 seconds and let rest for an hour — Or you can let the dyes take over night and leave them to the next morning no heat needed!
  6. Rinse with cold water – one Thwack, dry and you are ready to work with your dyes.

Want the whys and where for of these steps? See down below!

1.    The yarn is pre-scoured, but that doesn’t mean, you shouldn’t wash it. If you have been handling your yarn a lot before dyeing the cotton will have picked up the natural oils (or hand lotion) on your hands and the yarn will take up less dye. Wash your yarn in the hottest water from your hot water tank and a tiny amount of soap.

2.    Then allow the fibers to rinse and soak in water until the cotton sinks. If the cotton floats in the bowl of warm water it is not ready to dye. Cotton can hold a lot of air in the twist and the air will prevent the dye from attaching. You are going to have to soak for about 30-40 minutes. It is worth the extra time to soak to get a fuller color.

3.    To mix the dyes you are going to want to mix 8 cups of water with – the recommended amount of liquid dye, either a teaspoon or a half a teaspoon- some of the dye is slow and sluggish to pour while some runs like liquid. Pour slowly. For immersion dyeing you will need a gallon or larger tub- for each color- to soak in. Or you can mix the dye with half the amount of water, for painting on the skeins.

4.    Soak the skeins in the dye bath for 15 minutes to allow for the dye to take into the fibers. The dyes are not using a hot dye method so the fibers will need more time to absorb into the pre-mordanted cotton. Giving any of the colors more time in the dye bath will give them a stronger color. You will never have the color intensity of chemical dyes with natural dyes, but you will never be able to find organic chemical dyes either – there is a trade-off with either dye method.

5.    You will wrap your skeins in plastic wrap and allow the dyes to set- adding heat speeds the dye process however there will always be some wait time. If you microwave never microwave dry fibers- Dry Fibers Burn! The skeins should be fully wrapped but not sealed the microwave will create steam that will need to escape. Make sure that your wrung out skeins are still damp if you are going to microwave. Or you can wrap your skeins to set over-night.

6.    Rinse your skeins with cold water NO SOAP! You should get very little bleeding from the yarn.  Snap or thwack the skein after squeezing the water out – this will leave the stands looking nice and aligned. Hang to dry- After drying the fibers are ready to use however you’d like with hot, cold, soap or none- whatever you’d prefer.


 A little about Aquarelle Plant Extract Liquid Dyes® and Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are never as color saturated or bright as chemical dyes. Botanical Colors Aquarelle have been certified as compliant with the Global Organic Textile Standard of organic. The dye kit here offers liquid forms, Lac, Saxon Blue and Fustic.

These liquid dyes are formulated to provide fast, efficient and environmentally friendly dyeing. All of the dyes are from natural sources – roots, bark, pods, insects and all certified organic. The dyes will dye all natural fibers however the liquid indigo works best on wool and silk.


Red- Lac also known as Stick-lac is a dye formed by a bug byproduct resin, harvested from the coated branches of the host trees. Lacquer and Shellac where both products at one time made from lac.

Yellow- Fustic is commonly known as Old Fustic or Dyer’s mulberry. It is a medium to large tree grown from Mexico to Argentina. This dye is known for producing the coloring for khaki in WWI.

Blue- Saxon blue is a concentration of indigo and sulfuric acid. The historical name of this acid is oil of vitriol the process to create this dye is known as creating indigo sulfonate one of the first “acid dyes.”

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