I have a love hate relationship with yarn and fiber dyeing. For YEARS I have talked about dyeing yarn. First it was for Yarntopia and then it was for Yarn Is My Art...it never materialized and what it came down to was I didn’t have a voice to add anything to the already saturated indie dye market. There are so many people out there doing so many lovely things and I didn’t just want to be another fish in that ocean. I vowed that until I had something to offer I wasn’t going to do it.
Then I went to an indigo dye class at Independence Farmstead Fibers. My world was completely changed.
The concept of natural plant dyeing captured my fancy several years ago. In true Sheryl nature I began collecting books and information, just knowing that one day I would do this. Of course real life got in the way and the backyard still looks like this.
The “back forty” as I like to call it. Lots of room there for many things including a dye garden. If it weren’t for the dreaded deed restrictions I’d have a goat and chickens back there as well. I have a plan, so stay tuned for updates.
Back to the dyeing subject. I bought yarn when I thought I wanted to be a yarn dyer and I must do something with it. But I have found that what I love doing is dyeing fiber for spinners and felters. Maybe because I’m so in love with spinning and I love creating fiber for like minded folks. So after this class I investigated dyeing with natural plant based dyes. What I discovered (like most before me) is that the range of colors is somewhat limited especially if the use of alum is something one wants to avoid. So, I did the next best thing. I decided to use Greener Shades dyes.
These dyes are heavy metal free so I don’t have to worry so much about polluting the water system, and Dawn at Independence Farmstead taught me her trick for dealing with leftover dye stock. She mixes only what she is going to use at one time, but, sometimes things happen and all of a color doesn’t get used. So now she has three buckets for the leftover stock, divided by color family: blues & greens, yellows & oranges, reds & pinks. This way she just collects them, reuses them if desired, but the key is she leaves the lids off so the liquid just evaporates and all that is left is a residue that can be wiped out and discarded. Nothing gets poured out anywhere. This is genius and exactly what I will be doing as I begin larger scale dyeing.
The other beautiful thing is that this choice fits right in to my minimalist fiber artist concept. All the colors and a bag of citric acid all fit in a plastic shoe box. Greener Shades has wonderful tools for mixing basic colors to get just the right colors. My choices in powders are limited but the possibilities are endless.
I plan on using these dyes for my fiber dyeing, then as the plants from my dye garden produce flowers, leaves, berries, or roots for dyeing, I will add very limited selections of 100% plant based spinning fiber. I’m excited to see where this goes. I have about 100 lbs of fiber waiting to be dyed (yes I jumped in and bought fiber before I really had a plan), and plan on jumping in soon.
I leave next Wednesday for a week long road trip in which the midway point is Sparta, North Carolina. I am teaching freeform crochet on Sunday June 3rd at the first annual Blue Ridge Fiber Festival. There are still spots available, so if you’re in the area, come visit the festival and take my class!
Keeping on spinning, crocheting, knitting, or whatever makes you happy!