April is nesting season for the birds in my back yard, which means it’s time to provide them material for their nests. Dyed wool is one of their favorites – and mine too. I love to color the wool so that I can easily see when it’s carried off and used for nest building.
My dyed wool project is an ideal activity for the whole family – and also a great way to introduce your children to nature’s wonders, right in your own backyard. Small children can hang the wool in trees so the birds can easily take it. You can also encourage them to watch for the birds as they grab the pieces. Your older ones can help you dye the wool – or they can capture the process on camera and/or video. The dyes are all natural and will not be harmful to the birds or your children.
DYING WOOL WITH NATURAL DYES
- Raw or spun 100% wool fiber
- Dish pan
- Aluminum or steel cooking pot
- Slotted spoon
- For Dye Color you may choose: coffee grounds, tea leaves, yellow onion skins, red cabbage leaves, cut up beets, cranberries, blueberries or carrot juice to name a few
HOW TO DYE WOOL
- If using raw wool you may want to wash out the dirt and dried grass, although this is not necessary when it is to be used for nesting material. If you are using yarn, cut a few 10 to 12 yard lengths. Use your thumb and pointing finger on one hand as posts for wrapping each yarn length into a figure eight. Remove the yarn from the finger posts and tie the center of the figure eight with a short string.
- Heat the water in your pot on the stove to warm and add one of the dye materials listed above.
- Keep the heat level at low, drop the wool into the dye bath and stir. Allow the yarn to absorb the color for 20 to 40 minutes or longer. If you wish to keep the wool in the bath longer set the heat very low or turn off the heat and allow the wool to soak in the dye bath.
- Remove the wool and rinse it in cool water once. Some color will be lost.
- Place the wool into a clean glass bowl with cold water. Add a tablespoon of salt to set your dye.
- Cut up one of your lengths of wool into 3 or 4 inch lengths and hang the lengths in the bushes and trees in your yard for the birds to find. If you are using raw wool stuff bits of the wool into the “Y” shaped joint of the branches.
If you are using spun wool, be sure to save at least 10 yards of it for my next dyed wool project. Stay tuned…
What family projects do you enjoy? Let me know by commenting on this article.