Dyeing with Pecan Hulls

I thought that it would be fun to follow through on an experiment that some of my online friends were discussing and trying and give it a go myself. I have dyed many times, as so many of you have, with different natural elements and plants. They, however, were discussing nuts. Walnuts in particular, but here, I have pecans.

Raw Pecans
Raw Pecans


The Harvest
The Harvest

Pecan hulls to be exact. And, we tried eating the nuts. They were not ripe and we were all very sorry, as they tasted absolutely horrid. So, without any further ado, here is how it is done:

Materials Used:


Pecan Hulls(will stain fingers and nails), Cast Iron Pot, Cream of Tartar (optional), fiber(mohair in this case), something to pour the dye into (I used a mason jar), colander, hand knit pot holders, wooden spoon and a bowl.

Step 1:

Making the Dye
Making the Dye

Put hulls without the nuts in the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer 1-2 hours. Stir with wooden spoon as needed. 

Step 2:

Strain the hulls
Strain the hulls

Strain the hulls using a colander and bowl. Pour dye into jar to cool. It will keep for quite a while in the refrigerator, if you are not dyeing right away. (Please, use the pot holders!) The key to keeping your fiber from felting is not to shock it with extreme temperature changes, so you want you dye and fiber the same temperature during dyeing.

Dye Achieved!
Dye Achieved!

Step 3:

Stringscooking in dye

Wet your fiber and wring them out and put them in your pot with the dye (make sure they start off at approx the same temp or you could end up with felt). Mash your fibers into the mix until they are completely covered. Then heat them all up to a simmer. Simmer for, at least, 20 minutes. Take a lock out to cool and then rinse it to ‘test’ the color. The longer that it is in the darker it will get until it reaches its saturation point.

Step 4(optional, but I prefer):

Overnight Soak
Overnight Soak

Step 5:

Strain. Let dry.


Started off White and now Golden Pecan
Started off White and now Golden Pecan

8 thoughts on “Dyeing with Pecan Hulls

  1. Was the pot the mordant in this case? I worry about my stuff being dyefast because I don’t really know a lot about mordanting. Thanks for posting this! The color did come out beautiful.

    1. I haven’t really thought about the pot being the mordant, in this case. It was my understanding that nut hulls didn’t require a mordant in the same sense as other plant matter. If you are concerned about being dye fast; just make sure that you wash the fibers until the water is clear. I use Dawn dishsoap for my washing as it loosens up excess dye and doesn’t hurt the fibers.

  2. The pecans, like the walnuts, contain natural tannins, which is the mordant. Iron from the pot is a modifier — it “saddens” the colour, that is, dulls it down a bit, lessens the brightness of colours. If this was used in a glass or stainless steel pot, you would get a brighter golden colour. They are all in the same family range, but slight different tones. Vinegar used as a modifier would produce a more yellow colour, I think, and intensify red tones if any are present. They all go together so well.. good idea to dye all the wool, and then separate a small amount into another pot with different modifiers to produce a wider range of colours.

  3. We also have pecan trees up here in Virginia. I have learned over the past 20 years that once the nuts are harvested (and before shelling), if we bag them up and dump them in the deep freezer for a couple of days, the nut meat tightens up, pulls away from the “cork” and get very sweet. An alternative method, is to gather them off the ground and put them in baskets or buckets in a dry but outdoor spot (my front porch, in this case). After two or three days of deep frost (usually December, here), we start shelling. The cold temps are needed to sweeten the meats.

  4. Do you have to remove the nut meat before boiling? The latest tropical storm dumped our pecan tree out onto our lawn. Way too early to eat them as the hulls aren’t close to opening.

    1. I have not tried leaving the nut meat in, but I don’t see how it should matter. At most, there might be a bit of a colour change. Either way, the dyeing properties are still present. Have fun with your experiments. It is always so great to try new things!!

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