A Look At My Natural Dyeing Experiment With Sunflower Seeds & Iron

Hopi Sunflower Seeds

Hopi sunflower seeds being harvested.
Hopi Sunflower Seeds

Creating Dye Stock

Hopi sunflower seeds have been used for centuries by the Hopi people of northeastern Arizona as a natural dye to colour their textiles. The seeds produced a rich and vibrant purple colour that could be easily extracted and used to dye wool.

To create a dye stock with this plant, I collected the materials listed below.


  • Hopi sunflower seeds
  • Water
  • Large pot
  • Strainer or cheesecloth
  • Stove or heat source
  • Mordant (alum and cream of tartar)
  1. Start by gathering your Hopi sunflower seeds. You will need a good amount to create a dye stock, so it’s best to collect as many as possible.
  2. In a large pot, add the sunflower seeds and cover them with water. Use a 1:4 ratio of seeds to water, meaning for every cup of sunflower seeds, use four cups of water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the mixture simmer for about two hours, or until the water turns a purple colour.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and strain the mixture using a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any solids. The resulting liquid is your dye stock.
Hopi Seeds Harvest 2022

And there you have it – your very own Hopi sunflower seed dye stock! You can use this dye to colour a variety of wool fibres.

Once I had created this dye stock, I added iron as a modifier. J put two cups of dye stock in a glass jar and add the right amount of iron. Then I dipped my previously dyed mini skeins into the glass jar and put the jars in a shallow pan with low heat; then, I let everything soak overnight.

Sunflower Dye Stock
results of over dyeing yarn with hopi sunflower seeds.
Over-dyed With Sunflower Seeds

This was a lot of fun and I hope I have encouraged you to try natural dyeing. I have kits available to try your hand at natural dyeing. Each kit comes with pre-mordanted mini skeins and my own Hopi sunflower seeds.



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