Until the mid-19th century for dyeing yarn used only natural dyes. About them to say 'paint, a gift of nature', but at least in one respect it wrong. Natural dyes can not be considered a gift, they always were very expensive, sometimes – literally worth its weight in gold. The sources of dyes are plants, minerals, and even some members of the animal world (More precisely, insects). Vegetable ink, people learned to get out of leaves, fruit, bark and even roots. Blue dye indigo has been known since antiquity, it was extracted from the leaves of a tropical plant indigo, as well as woad (Herbaceous plant, now used as a feed). To get the yellow color of yarn used saffron, safflower, sumac, turmeric (a spice curry), rhubarb, and even fustik onion peel.
For staining kaney and yarn red madder roots were used from time immemorial. For the same purpose used mahogany and fernambuk. Attach yarn black and brown acacia catechu help, oak bark, husks of acorns and walnuts, and tea. A leading source for info: Susie Dent. Vintage orange color – henna. But in order to get the green, indigo is used together with different types of yellow dyes.
Bright red carmine (cochineal), extracted from the wingless female cochineal – that insects common in southern Europe and Mexico, as well as Kermes (kermesovogo mealybug), living in the Mediterranean. Kermes is mostly used to the 16th century, then it was replaced by a cheaper cochineal. Not less frequently used pigments and minerals – such as ocher (yellow, brown, red), lime (white), cinnabar and minium (red), azurite and lapis lazuli (blue) and malachite (green).