Andean Mist Botanical Dyes are all natural, wild crafted herbs used to dip dye the gorgeous palette of colorfast colors. Cochineal is also used in many of the colors to avoid synthetic ingredients and caustic preparations. Normally the blues would be dyed with Indigo in most plant dyed palettes, but because the indigo preparation uses lye, the dyers felt that Huito (a Peruvian fruit) was a much safer process with a bit of Cochineal** to balance the fruits gray tone.
All the wild crafted botanicals are Native to Peru and in many cases are used medicinally by the Peruvian natives.
Metal Salt Mordants: Alum & Iron
NOTE: Only the safest metal salts are used as mordants... Heavy Metals such as Tin and Chrome are never used.
List of Peruvian Botanicals
A rainforest fruit
Leaves of a pepper tree
Dried roots of a mountain plant
Leaves of the walnut tree
Seed pods of a shrub
Cochineal or Cochinella**
A tiny beetle like bug that is dried and powdered for a deep red to pink dye
**Cochineal is used in several of the colors in very small amounts to offset the gray in the Huito fruit. The Pinks use the most Cochineal along with 1 or more of the botanicals. The use of Cochineal is listed in the individual color details in the yarn categories.
NOTE: We are a vegetarian company. We live and breathe vegetarianism bordering on Veganism, BUT we are also very concerned with the environment at the same time and those two passions can affect our way of thinking in order to choose the best road to take. We felt that a well rounded color palette with the use of Cochineal was the healthier environmental choice compared to synthetic dyes. Though synthetic dyes can have their place, when available as a low impact color, plant dyes when used with iron & alum mordants are the only natural choice. On another note.... the Cochineal used in the dyes are picked off of cacti and dried. They are a constant blight to the Peruvian cacti and if left to their own devices, the cacti (a native Peruvian food source), would wither and die due to the Cochineal's parasitic nature. The Peruvians have used Cochineal in this way for thousands of years in their textiles and it is an important part of their culture and heritage. Unlike silk worms that are farmed for their silk, Cochineal are collected from the wild without the need to artificially grow the population. In the end we felt that it was the best choice currently available.
We are now trying to get the dyers to consider using Madder, which is a botanical that is also a red based dye. We found out very recently that Madder used to grow wild and abundantly in the Andean mountains and still does today to a much lesser extent. We are hoping that the dyers will consider Madder as a substitute for Cochineal in the future so that we do not have to make the choice between our environmental and vegetarian ethic. We will keep requesting this and hope for a change very soon.