Simple beginner natural dyeing workshops you will really love

Natural dye workshops are now on the website!

Ever wanted to learn natural dyeing but thought it was going to be lots of hassle at home? Today I want to dispel that myth once and for all so that you can enjoy the beauty of natural dyeing at home. You can even use natural dyes in your kitchen though I wouldn’t recommend it! Even though the colours and mordants are natural, it is always advisable to use natural dyes outside, in a shed or outside space like a garage or in a dedicated space where no food is prepared. Read on to find out about my simple workshops and how to get started….

The techniques I teach in the workshops can be used for (non synthetic) yarns and certain types of fabric and there is usually something for everyone to have a go with! The colours come from dye plants and flowers which are grown organically if possible and sustainably, sometimes foraged, and sometimes grown in my Cornish garden.

How easy is it to dye yarn or fabric at home?

I use simple equipment including a wooden spoon, a large saucepan, measuring jug, scales and a bucket. All things that we have at home, so no extra expense needed to get you started. Natural dyeing doesn’t have to be complicated, time consuming or difficult. In fact, its a bit like making a very strong pot of (dye) tea! Just remember that when you have used the pan, utensils etc. you must NOT use them for food again.

The yarn or fabric to be dyed is usually soaked in a mineral mordant first to prepare it, then put in the dye pot or solar jar to absorb the dye. The mordant is a safe and eco-conscious mineral salt so even older children can have a go, and you have no worries about the disposal of it or the natural dyes. I’ll explain more about mordants and how they work in the workshops. I also tell you about the variety of natural dyes available, some might even be in your kitchen cupboard or larder already! I have created kits if you feel like having a go, or perhaps you’d like to join me on a workshop via zoom….

Natural dyeing with the traditional method

Natural dyeing with the traditional method

Plant dyes give their colours easily in warm water, and so it is not complicated to create a dye pot in a large saucepan. The yarn is then put in the pan of strained dye and either gently heated for a while, or left overnight to absorb the colour. It really can be that simple! Fabric and yarn dyed in this way can be used in most of your textile and yarn crafts.

Of course there are more involved ways to extract the colour from some plant dyes. Some dyes react to different pH solutions to give different colours than you might expect, and that’s all part of the fun of natural dyeing. As you learn the basics and are inspired by the colours, you may want to learn more and extend your skills. There are also ways to create multi coloured effects, and overdyeing to change the colours completely. They all use the same basic technique of creating a dye pot of colour and infusing the yarn or fabric.

Natural dyeing using the power of the sun!

Solar Dyeing, just a jar, water and time….

This method of natural dyeing needs even less equipment; just a large clip top jam jar and your doorstep. The dry yarn or fabric is layered in the jar with dry dye sprinkled in between. Then the mordant in water added. The jar is clipped closed and left for a couple of months to absorb the UV in the daylight. It takes about 10 minutes to set up then 3 months of no effort at all to create your own skein of naturally dyed yarn or piece of fabric! It doesn’t matter if its a hot sunny day, or a clear cool winter day, the UV still works. This means that solar dye jars can be set up at any time of year. They make great gifts too! I have created kits which go with the workshops.

Does that sound like fun? During the workshop I show you how to do it to create the best colour effects. Then you get to set up your own solar pot with me to help and guide you. Its the ultimate low tech, environmentally friendly dye method there is. No harsh chemicals, no grid power needed, no complicated equipment, and the jar is re-useable for next time. All the dye stuff can be composted or disposed of in the general household waste without concern.

Want to know more?

Please contact me if you are interested in any of the kits or natural dye workshops. I can offer them via zoom, or in person in Cornwall and Devon to groups of 5 or more.

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Your Comments

  1. It’s great to see another natural dyer in our growing community but I would just like to respectfully point out, as a tutor, author, researcher and practitioner of natural dyeing for over 40 years, is that dyeing, no matter how safe the ingredients, should NEVER be done in a kitchen. Should there be any kind of mishap you might well find your public liability insurance might leave you stranded!

  2. Thank you for amending the point about the kitchen. It’s also important – arguably more so – to say that once kitchen equipment has been used for natural (or any other sort) dyeing, it cannot then be used for food preparation and cooking.

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