My interest in hand dyed yarn stems from not being able to find the right yarn for the project in the right colour, tone or shade. Once you have that colour in your head or ‘ideas’ journal it is hard to let it go. My journey began using acid dyes – not as bad as it sounds these dyes need an acidic ingredient to bind to the yarn or fabric e.g. vinegar. Out of curiosity I tried the natural dyes, once I had I was hooked. Whilst the synthetic dyes are easier and definitely less time consuming to use the colours achieved using natural dye make it so worthwhile. There is a beauty and depth of colour to natural dyes that become even more beautiful with age.
The difficulty in obtaining consistency between dye baths can be an issue but I think this is a part of the charm in using natural dye - never quite knowing what the results will be and usually being pleasantly surprised!
A natural progression from dyeing yarn was to dye, block and screen print my fabric. This is definitely a labour of love and patience! To convert dye extract into ink or paint at the correct consistency and the patience needed waiting for the fabric to cure before you can see the result is not one of my strong points but for the most part well worth the wait. Indigo vat is a process all its own also worthwhile for the results can be stunning and I don’t need to wait too long!
As everyone will know the art of natural dyeing has been in use for centuries and it was only about 150 years ago that synthetic dyes became dominant. I use the traditional dyes of madder, indigo, cutch, lac,logwood and natural mordants Alum, tannins Myrobalan or oak. The yarn is either Welsh fleece from a local farm or British wool from a British spinning mill. Whenever I can I source my supplies from UK companies. There is a new mill weaving cotton and another that weaves short selvedge denim – both fabrics used in my accessories.