The Dyer

dyed yarn

Although the clothing of the common people in medieval times would have predominantly been in the blacks, browns, greys and 'sheep colour' of the natural fleece, if you could afford it there was no lack of beautiful colours available.

Whilst it is entirely possible that the medieval housewife may have used materials gathered from the hedgerow to do her own dyeing, our dyer concentrates on the dyes that were in use by commercial dyers of the time.

The three main dyes of the period were madder, giving various shades of red, weld for yellows, and woad for blue. These three dyes when used either alone, in combination with each other, or in combination with other dyestuffs of the time were capable of producing a literal rainbow of colours.

Madder, weld and woad are all plants which were grown commercially for dyeing in the 15th century, either in England or elsewhere in Europe from where they were imported.

Dye recipes were jealously guarded by the medieval dyers guilds and it was not until 1548 that a book containing dye recipes first became available to the general public.

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