a dyeing extravaganza

i have been so crazily busy dyeing dyeing dyeing, filling custom orders, prepping for our school Autumn Fair, spinning & making hats for the beanie festival, creating product for etsy.. i have only now just come up for air & thought it high time for a blog post to share what I have been up to. i'll dedicate this post to my recent foray in the dyepots.

firstly, i have been busily renewing my handdyed stash of fiber. i had the fortune of dyeing with my friend in her newly built Poured Earth felt-making studio a few weeks back.. we are practically neighbours, so she has very kindly offered me the use of her space when i need it.. yeeeAh! bring it on i say!

I received a shipment of merino/seacell mill-ends from canada which are absolutely Divine. and then some. I love the sheen the seacell gives on the merino.. oh, & the softenss.. did i mention baby cheeks soft?

Popped some superwash roving into the huge electric copper.. gawd i lOVe that thing! it's huge, & could easily fit multiple kilos at a time.. splendid.. just need to play with the heat, & remember to take my thermometer next time so i can gauge when to add subsequent colours & have them strike right away instead of blending to achieve nice colour separations.. kettle dyers would know what i mean. i confess to being a microwave dyer.. so when it comes to kettle dyeing, in a gigantic copper pot, not so much. i'm forced to have to go and play i guess.. *ha* what next.. some merino mill-ends, kid mohair locks, all acid dyes. Did i mention she has 2 microwaves in the studio.. i was in heaven! i can see many more earth-studio dyepot sessions in my future thats for surely sure *-*

Pam was playing around with dyeing some silk scarves using a mix of acid dye & eco printing with eucalyptus leaves. Pam is a highly skilled felt artist, hat maker, ceramicist, and keen dyer of heavenly shibori scarves. If you are local to the mountains, you might have seen her work at the Nook in Leura? If you are visiting the Blue Mountains i urge you to check out the local arts & crafts upstairs on the main street in Leura Mall.. there is some gorgeous handmade work to see.

During this dye session we were doing first experiments with printing from leaves, as seen in the inspirational book eco colour by India Flint - [available from Artisan Books or run (sprint) to the local book store, in my case Megalong Books in Leura Mall].

This book is stunningly beautiful, informative & a treasure to hold.. it is a tactile emporium of colour, displaying a plethora of ideas about renewable colourants & ever so much more. India is a botanical textile artist, costume designer and inspirational author. Of the ideas presented to me, i found most striking & undeniably refreshing as a dyer to know extraodinary results can be achieved dyeing with plants sourced from your own garden. I am in awe of "slow-dyeing" using discarded plants & sustainable harvesting methods (which translates to using compost, clippings, fallen mulch etc.. never stripping from a living tree & devastating the local ecology - a misconception that is prevalent around the adverse effects of natural dyeing)
. The book is an in depth study of sustainable dyeing techniques for fabrics (plant & animal fibers) using readily available plants, and covers various methods to achieve colour using non-toxic mordants aswell.. such as the soymilk method from Japan, using pomegranites, wee et al, and informs us of Australia's own substantive dye source, the native eucalyptus - a wonderful dye for children to use. Playing around with the botany around me has never been so exciting. We enjoyed the chance results that happened using the processes.. we had mixed results, and are definitely enthused to make more living eco prints.

naturally this aspect of dyeing without mordants is fascinating to me, as i love to dye wool & cloth with my daughter & her friends at her school. here are some of my experiments:
L-R: top row: eco print on silk with mulberry leaf; dahlia on wool; eucalyptus silk,wool; mid row: tea on wool; mulberry on wool; coreopsis flowers on wool; base row: eucalyptus on wool; eucalyptus graduation on wool; eucalyptus on silk.

We have our Autumn Harvest school fair on the weekend & i thought it timely to do some natural wool dyeing with the children, and spinning of course too! We will dye indigo, onion skins, beets & berries.. pop on by if you are in the area:
Kindlehill School, Lake St, Wentworth Falls. Sat10th May 10am-3pm.


Shannon said...

oh my goodness, the Eco Colours book is now #1 on my wishlist! i don't see that it's available in the US...i made need to send you on a mission when i have our swap yarn(s) ready! i am chucking the acid dyes for good, i've decided (now that i've exhausted my remaining solutions and somehow got the perfect reds for part of our project!), and need some good references!

wooldancer said...

absolutely! we gotta get you that book girl - gotta! I'm easy when it comes to stepping foot into our bookstore.. i'll pay you to get me to go there! *ha*

inkberryblue said...

What a fascinating post. It's so interesting to read about your process.
...and thank you for dropping by my blog and saying nice things. I really like your idea of making gauntlets out of the twin yarn.

Nichole said...

isn't india's book just divine?? It was like a revelation to me, the wait for its release was excruciating! Not sure if you know, but she also pens (or types...) a blog:


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