25 August 2013

Dyeing in the Garden

We had a lovely day at the Pegg Garden today, dyeing yarn and silk scarves with locally sourced materials.

Fourteen people showed up to play with colour and fibre, and we had beautiful sunny weather for our experiments. I had spent the last couple of weeks preparing dye baths: wood chippings and amur cherry and apple tree prunings (helpfully provided by George Pegg Garden staff), grass clippings (provided by The Boy), thistle and tansy (harvested by me from the ditch), and onion skins and frozen flowers (also provided by the Garden).

The frozen flowers were bundled into a silk scarf before everyone arrived and set to steam, then we chatted about dyeing with plants, and got our yarn into the water baths. We got lovely colours from everything this year!

Then we had our lunch, followed by a tour of the garden led by our intrepid County Horticulturalist, who told us about the kinds of plants we can grow here and showed us samples of many of the ones we were using for dyeing growing right there in the Garden.

While we walked, we harvested materials for the silk scarf dyeing, and then everyone made patterns on their silk and rolled it into a sausage for steaming. We didn’t have enough time to get everything thoroughly steamed, but people could take them home and finish the steaming or leave the bundle to sit for a few days or weeks until the colour develops.

(Yes, that’s a baby sleeping on a blanket under the umbrella. She was an adorable little angel, didn’t cry once the whole day!)

Our yarns came out in fabulous shades – I didn’t get enough pictures, but it really did turn out great. I have more dye bath liquids here at home and some fibre I need to dye for a weaving project, so you’ll be seeing samples soon. The amur cherry prunings gave a really lovely reddish gold that I hope to get more of, and the grass clippings gave more colour than I expected, too! A nice rich brownish green.

I have one more silk scarf steaming now, the one I did for a sample today turned out amazingly well and is at the Garden for show and tell for a little while longer.

… here it is!

It was a lot of fun. Flowers that don’t give much colour in a dye bath extracted for wool can still make fabulous prints on silk, and weeds that you have to cut down anyway make awesome dye baths for colouring your plain yarns. And it’s natural, no nasty chemicals involved, the waste products go in the compost heap … what’s not to love?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:29 pm

    sounds like you had a wonderful day and have shared the joy of your craft with others.

    Glad it went well!


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