Dyeing Workshop May 2021

Stephanie Hoyledyeing reports, event reports, Reports0 Comments

Normally in a dye workshop the person leading explains the process, shows samples and then participants are able to have a go. First measuring carefully, following rules, then, when they feel confident with the process, letting loose their imagination and having fun. This tine, because we couldn’t meet up, we focussed on explaining and hoped to give enough information to encourage people to try.

Hilma talked about solar dying, showing how this kind of dyeing requires minimal equipment but produces good colours, even in cool spring weather. The process is simple: place the dyestuff in a glass jar, add alum for plant material, citric acid or vinegar for commercial dyes, put in your fleece or yarn, top up with warm water, place in sunlight and leave for a few weeks. Hilma demonstrated, taking a kilner jar and adding wallflowers (picked yesterday and stored in a paper bag), alum, fleece and warm water. By the end of the morning some colour was already showing. Over the last month Hilma had dyed with dried and fresh daffodil heads, red and white onion skins, dried marigold heads, safflower exhaust, logwood exhaust, wallflower, red cabbage and white crottle, and food colour dyes. She had also layered a skein: starting with buckthorn bark / yarn / madder / yarn / liquid indigo / yarn. She recommended: “Wild Dyer” by Abigail Booth, and “Wild colour” by Jenny Dean. The latter includes instructions for making a solar oven. You can download Hilma’s solar dyeing notes

Isobel has sent a list articles on solar dyeing in Spin Off and The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers:
Spin Off Summer 05 “Sun kissed dyeing” and making equipment
Journal 165 March 1993: For Beginners: Solar Dyeing
Journal 188 December 1998: Cool Dyeing – The natural Way
Journal 234 Summer 2010: Solar Dyeing with natural dyes. Helen Melvin
Journal 245 Spring 2013: Slow colour, community and well-being

Stephanie talked about using Procion MX dyes, and had made short videos of the process. You can download her workshop notes. Sophie had used the same dyes and showed her colour samples, demonstrating the range of repeatable colours that are possible. There was lively discussion, with people recommending different kinds of dyes and talking about their experiences of solar dyeing. Christine had immersed pieces of copper pipe in a vinegar solution and got a lovely blue liquid.
Pictures below – the final one is Stephanie’s samples, the rest are Hilma’s.

The discussion continued in the afternoon craft and chat session, with people talking about dyeing with avocado and pomegranate skins. Mary showed silk and wool she had dyed with avocado. Sarah had made a felted cushion from fleece dyed with Gaywool Dyes. Ruth was weaving bookmarks on her new 16-shaft computerised loom to try it out – the computer lifts the shafts according to the pattern; the actual weaving is still by hand. Hilma and Norah showed the mini tapestries they had completed. Terry was spinning on her dealgan spindle, and Susan had been using her weaving to make pond “baskets”. Sheila finished plying a skein of beautiful silk which she plans to weave into her challenge scarf. Pictures below.

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