Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dyeing Days

Cadi and Jen, you win for commenting! I will send your goodies out this week. I need addresses again though.
When I first started working at the Waldorf school, I had no clue about plant dyeing. I just ordered my Brown Sheep colors as close to Goethe's color theory as I could and went merrily along my way. Somewhere in my training, a change occurred. There is always a longing within me for connection. In my handwork training, we drew the dye plants, we observed them deeply in silence. We then dyed with them. This was perfect for me....I love the kind of process where there is a surprise at the end, and the results are ever-beautiful, ever-changing, never duplicated, and the process yields a sense of connection to the Earth. So close to Nature Herself. So like sanguine me....tripping along, changeable, free. Recipes, yes, but no guarantees. And plant-dyeing 100 skeins of yarn at a time was just the kind of extremism I go for.
But, what really got me, heart and soul, were the colors. I figured if the colors had this kind of intangible effect on me, surely they would be healing for the children. And it is something I can give to the school...the time, effort, and learning that goes into natural dyeing is worth it to me.
I still feel very much an apprentice in the natural dyeing realm. I am making my plans for this week and these are the dyepots that are featured:
For red: cochineal . I got a good red last year using only cochineal, distilled water, and cream of tartar. Alum mordant. I also bought a lac/madder combo I am going to try with distilled water also, since lac is expensive and sensitive to pH.
For orange: yellow cosmos from my back yard and a little copperas in the dyebath
For yellow: more cosmos and marigolds, and a dear friend brought me some tesu flower (I think that is what it is) from LaLana Wools in Taos. These should give me nice yellows and golds.
For green: cosmos overdyed with indigo, onion skins overdyed with indigo, and I am going to try to get a green using blue vitriol mordant. (blue vitriol...what a great name, eh? That pretty much sums up some days around here.)
For blue: Is there anything else? I have no woad, so indigo it is.
For purple: logwood
For pink: second pass in the cochineal dyepot
for brown: cutch (I love love love the colors cutch gives)
If I get time, I am going to swipe some goldenrod from a roadside or friend's farm and dye with that. I would also like to experiment with other local plants: sycamore, nettles, vines in my front yard, any other weeds I can find to dye with
My favorite books for dyeing are:
The Natural Dye Instruction booklet by Michelle Wipplinger
A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan
Vegetable Dyeing by Alma Lesch (who was hugely involved in U of L's fiber arts program)
You can get these books on Amazon (Vegetable Dyeing is out of print so you will have to) or at earthsongfibers.com, or earthguild.com
By the way, Earth Guild has free instruction sheets for natural dyeing. I do use their indigo recipe. I can't wiggle too much with the indigo dyeing. I've ruined too much yarn through my wiggling around good, solid instructions.

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