Natural Dyeing...the beginning

As with many processes dealing with fiber, there is more than one approach, especially in the beginning.  Natural dyeing is no different. Experimentation, drive, and desired outcome all shape the process an individual chooses.  I have observed vast philosophies over the last year and I am sure this will remain constant through out my journey in understanding natural dye processes.  I am a beginner.  My efforts are sincere and driven.   I have the good fortune to a live within a 20 minute drive of master dye teacher, weaver and featured artist in Rebecca Burgess' book Harvesting Color,  Carol Leigh.  She has hosted workshops, sold natural dye materials, weaving tools and yarns for decades.  I purchased my first natural dye kit from her over 6 years ago, but, as fate would have it, I never used the dye kit until 18 months ago.  I guess I was finally ready to take the necessary, AND MANY, steps required to make things happen.  I am so glad I did!  It's been life changing.  In dyeing, I have married my long-time cooking skills with my gardening skills.  I grow color in the summer months that can be used all winter in my knitting and spinning projects. When I was a beginning knitter,  I would put my knitting needles away in the spring and summer in exchange for my gardening shovel.  Now it is a constant endeavor. A lovely thing.    

 

Here are some photos from my first natural dye workshop I took at Carol Leigh's ancient dye workshop in late winter 2013. February can be grey and grueling in Missouri.  A weekend full of natural dyeing, chemistry and new ideas was just what the doctor ordered.  

Mordanting with alum in preparation for dyeing

Mordanting with alum in preparation for dyeing

Ground Cochineal

 

Fustic

Fustic

Cochineal with 3 different mordants: copper, iron and alum

Cochineal with 3 different mordants: copper, iron and alum

Logwood on cotton and wool

Logwood on cotton and wool