A bit of Chem: Flavonoids and Anthraquinones

So, someone asked a question while I was away. It was a good question.

It had to do with natural dyes and flavonoids, and how they compare to anthraquinones.

“What?” some of you are no doubt querying.

The Difference Between Dyes

Fiber Chemistry

Anthraquinones are a common structure for acid dyes to be based off. Flavonoids are a common structure for some natural dyes.

So here’s the most basic structure of an anthraquinone:


And here’s the most basic structure of a flavenoid:

You can see, they’re pretty similar. Big difference is that the phenol rings (the hexagons) have a linker in flavenoid, and not in the anthraquinone. As you get more complicated, that starts to seem a little less important.

One important thing to note here is that these basic structures make the chemical colored, that’s actually the most defining feature of a dye chemical. The “dye” aspect is usually added on after the fact, or if it’s a natural dye, is a lucky chance addition for the dyer.

Here are some simple-ish anthraquinone dyes:


Acid Blue, Vat Violet, the dye that makes your gas blue, and Disperse Red

These are dyes made synthetically, but the colors from lichen, fungi, rhubarb, buckthorn, and senna are all anthraquinone colors as well.

Here’s an example of a far more complex flavenoid dye. This is marigold dye, “patulitin.”


And here’s a few flavenoid colors…

Luteolin, the yellow from weld:


Quercitin, the yellow from onions (and part of the color from oak and tea):


Which is all a very long, roundabout way to say that structurally they are very similar. Most of the natural dye flavenoids are in the yellow/orange range (but not universally so), while the anthraquinones are mostly in the blue range (but not universally so). The main difference between them as DYES, is that with most flavenoids you need a mordant in order to serve as a linker to bind it to the fiber, while most anthraquinone dyes are synthesized with an acid moiety like a sulfate or the like. But the natural ones (aforementioned lichen, etc) will need a mordant, just like the flavenoids.

Hope that answers your question!

That’s all for now!
~The Gnome



Sorry for the radio silence, guys.

I’ve been away at Army training in California (I’m a Reservist). The shop’s still been operational as a lovely friend offered to keep things running.

I hope to get more things in the dyepot shortly. There will be another brief bout of training (this time in Texas), and then I should be back under steam for dyeing.


That’s all for now!
~The Gnome

We are running low on Insi, and thus are considering the next run of yarn.

Input? What would YOU like to see?

1. More Insi (100% Tunis Fingering) – $25 a skein

2. Deluxe Insi (80%/20% Tunis/Silk Fingering) – ~$28 a skein

3. Dorset Sock (100% Dorset Fingering) – ~25$ a skein

4. Deluxe Dorset Sock (80/20 Dorset/Silk Fingering) – ~$28 a skein

5. Rambo/Finn/Polwarth Sweater (Fine-non-merino DK/Worsted) -~22? a skein

Prices are not set in stone. I’m least clear on the pricing on the thicker yarn. It’d be less, probably, not sure since the fiber runs more.

Thoughts? I can likely only do one of these this coming year.

That’s all for now!
~The Gnome

Starry Night

This is a new colorway I designed. The inspiration is probably my favorite painting ever, Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

So we set out to dye it. As is my default, I used a kettle method and space dyed it. The yarn picks up on the greens and blues, with “sparks” of the sun/stars in golden orange.

Starry Night - Insi

I dye this with a moderately large “star” part (the gold) deliberately so that it will tend to run together when knit into more swirly van Gogh spirals.

If you find the right pattern, you can maximize this effect. For instance, “Pieces of Eight.” (A note that this is a neat pattern, but being free, has errors and a bit insufficient charts).

Pieces of Eight 0

Pieces of Eight 1

Pieces of Eight 2

If, however, you knit it more “normally” in the round then the gold will spiral upwards like it did in this hat I knit (Basic hat, nothing fancy).

Starry Night Hat

And then finally if you pick a pattern that will break things up, like Zippy then you get short “stars” like this!

Starry Night Sock

I can dye this in any yarn or fiber! I’m really pleased with it. Welcome to the Gnomespun flock, Starry Night!

That’s all for now!
~The Gnome

Web Updates

You’ll notice from this page that the website has changed!

This is the first of some updates that I’m going to be putting the site through, getting it up to date with the most current version of what Gnomespun Yarn and Fiber Arts is doing!

So keep an eye out, as I add some new reference pages and clarify others!

That’s all for now!
~The Gnome