We are lucky. We get to see all this colour and texture every week. We get to make it too. We get to see what people do with their yarn or how they combine colours and fibres. It is a constant visual feast and melting pot of inspiration and ideas. Often we don’t know what we are doing to make with the colours we are spinning. That comes after. Sometimes we do know exactly what we want to do with the yarn we are spinning. Half the fun is looking at the colours and thinking about what we would do with it or others thinking what they would do with it.
Jan H’s bright green fibre has been dyed with food colouring. She dyed wool and alpaca fleece and the resultant colours in the yarn are just wonderfully vibrant and eye catching. Jan E often spins silk in with some of the yarns she makes and it gives such a lift to the colour and texture of the yarn. She wasn’t overly fond of the hankie silk but it didn’t matter. It was something she wanted to try. We just try things out and we either like it or we don’t . The bonus is, someone else might like it!
Just look at the colours and squishy yarns. What would you do with them?
It was a beautiful 22 degrees and a perfect day for dyeing out on the veranda ! We opened the glass wall doors and let the light breeze and sunshine in. We should all like to thank Hilary for being so good at organising another dyeing workshop this year because those of us who participated had a lovely time and achieved what we wanted. Jan1, Hilary and Alexis all helped us with how to get the best colours and results. Rubine was a popular colour but we were just having fun trying to work out how to get the colours we wanted. Some were dyeing carded fleece, others just washed fleece and Cathy tried some rose fibre. We were using Earth Palette cold dyes and so the dyed fibre was going to go home to sit in the sun in a black bag for the day. Dyeing a skein of wool had to be thought out carefully so that it would knit up in an effective pattern. This is where the experienced people could be very helpful to the beginners. We’ll be bringing our dyed fibre back next week for show and tell and so we’ll be able to see how it all turned out. It’s a process which really makes you think and then you have to just do it!
A lot of people like to hand paint dyes onto fibre because you can get some interesting effects. If you use darker colours, you get some really good colours , too. You need a good work space area and a place you can keep clean easily and then plenty of plastic and protective layers and rubber gloves. It doesn’t need to be messy but better to be prudent prepare for that eventuality . In the end it is fun and creative. WoolWench provides clear instructions.
We had done our cold dye workshop on the 19th and that was enjoyable for everyone who was there and created a real sense of success for those new to dyeing. Alexis walked in this week with two big bags of silver dollar gum leaves and spoke a little about natural dyes. It altered the conversations and set up a challenge. One of the best gifts you can give someone is the gift of learning. From natural dyes you can learn a lot about culture, history , civilisations and plants. Natural dyes have been used through the ages, there is an art to it and it requires time and thought. You get better results if you don’t hurry and if you immerse yourself in the process. Any dyeing has a calming effect because you are working with fibre and colour in a methodical way. Natural dyes are sustainable, ecologically and environmentally friendly and so really worth considering . As well as the gum leaves, Alexis brought along references to some really good web sites to consult so that you are more in control of the process:
The Woolery has a lot of information about which plants to use for particular colours and it is set out clearly.
Motherearth News has good information about plant based mordants.
The gardeningknowhow blog has excellent information about which plants to use for which colours.
You can look at this little video on natural dyes and dyeing too from woodland plants to see how valuable this information and knowledge is to archeologists. Yarn arts are not just busy work.