The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

Dyes can be found in variety in the West Virginia woodlands


Before commercial dyes became readily available to mountain people in West Virginia, homespun yarn was colored with natural materials that could easily be obtained in the woods near any hill farm.

The hulls of walnuts and butternuts were perhaps the most common. Both yielded a dark brown color which could be rendered almost black if the hulls were steeped in boiling water for a long time. The use of butternut for this purpose was so common that the word came into use as a slang term referring to rough country folk.

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