Natural Dye Process

Riot of Colors

orange and green leaves
What an absolute riot of colors are outside right now. I am so fortunate to live in New England, particularly in the fall, and to be able to drive into town and be absolutely wowed by color. So spoiled, but trust me, I don’t take any of it for granted- I am always looking around at the scenery and mountains and thinking just how lucky I am.

pond and trees

Last week though, I had another great introduction to color. I went to a small natural dye workshop at A Wrinkle in Thyme Farm in Sumner, Maine, along with Beth from Parris House Wool Works. Beth and I had so much fun with Marty! I talked to Marty at a local farmers market and asked if we could get together some time to do this and she was very willing to accommodate our crazy schedules. A great example of small town generosity and kindred fiber spirits.

chicken

We had a tour of Marty’s dye gardens and were able to choose four different plants that we cut and brought inside to her wonderful workshop for dyeing. Marty mostly dyes yarn, but as rug hookers, we brought along some wool too. I also had some roving and some yarn that we threw into the dye pots. I wanted to get the whole experience of dyeing different things even though they all come from sheep fiber. I have been very curious about yarn and roving dyeing and couldn’t wrap my head around how you just put it in the pot just like a piece of wool fabric, but guess what? you can! you just need to treat it a wee bit differently when removing it.

When dyeing with flowers and plants the plant material and water may be one color but the wool ends up being something different- it was fascinating to watch the process unfold. I think my favorite result came from the marigolds and weld plant.

While we waited for things to stew a bit, we walked around the farm and met her sheep, dogs and chickens. It was a spectacular weather day- warm, dry and brilliant, the kind of day that people from away dream of.

Marty was a wealth of information and had many books she showed us as references for us in the future of our own home dyeing. Her workshop was the envy of both Beth and I-a kitchen for dyeing, a lot of storage and a shop with comfortable seating and work tables. Ah, I can dream…

dyed wool on machine

One thing that was interesting to me was that it doesn’t seem to really matter if the plant material is with fresh cut flowers, or if the flowers have “gone by” OR that you can harvest the material and throw it in the freezer for a later dyeing time. That was definitely new information for me.

This is the result of a few happy hours –

I brought some of the material home to dry and Beth took the other materials. Here is what I have-


On my way home I stopped to take a few pictures and to get some water at the local spring- as you can see the “grass” in my yard is very dry- we need rain! but I am glad to have this spring where I can fill up my bottles and have it to use as drinking water, etc until some rain comes out way. The lack of rain hasn’t effected the foliage though.

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