A couple of weeks ago I spent a wonderful 3 hours with Jules (from Woollenflower) learning about the basics of dyeing yarn and fabrics with natural dyes.
The class was held at Handmaker’s Factory in Kensington in a great studio space in an old warehouse (that I had seen for years from the window of the train that goes to the Showgrounds). The class was inspiring and fun. And there was cake!
Sadly, I got a bit carried away tidying up the photos on my phone last week so this is the only one I have left, but you can see more at the Handmaker’s Factory blog.
I’ve been a bit intrigued by dyeing for a while now. When we visited Japan in 2007 I rode the train out to the Nihon Minka-en farmhouse museum in the western suburbs of Tokyo where there was a demonstration of traditional indigo dyeing in one of the old farm houses. I was so enthralled that in my excitement I went out the wrong door and accidentally walked out of the museum – luckily with a bit of smiling and bowing the dyeing ladies let me back in.
Then two years ago I bought Setsuko Ishii’s Dyes from kitchen produce : easy projects to make at home. It’s all very zakka, with pale but beautiful colours and stylish Japanese homestyle design. But I was a bit confused by the actual process and the mordants so I never actually got around to doing anything more than flicking through the book and looking at the lovely photographs.
Now, after attending Jules’s class, I reckon I’m ready to have a go!
In the class we dyed various yarns and fabric swatches with bright yellow Soursob flowers, Silver Dollar eucalyptus leaves and chlorophyll powder. Jules provided us with great notes which I now have neatly filed for future reference, especially as they include lists of local plants useful for dyeing, the kind of information you usually can’t get from books published overseas. Soursob, for example, you see everywhere in Melbourne on waste ground and along railway lines so I can collect some and freeze for future dyeing projects.
If you think you might like to get into dyeing too, you might like to keep an eye on…