Natural Dye Day: C-U Spinners and Weavers Guild

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Last weekend, the C-U Spinners and Weavers Guild hosted a natural dye day at Forest Glen Preserve. (You can find the guild on FB too). The weather was perfect: a little sunny, a little cloudy, crisp with autumn in the air. Beth and Dottie built the fires, brewed the dyes, set up a rope-line for drying the skeins, and provided plenty of instruction and inspiration (there were even handouts!)

I missed the mordanting of the skeins (Z had a cross country meet down south); but Beth was kind enough to take my skeins with her and get them in the pots for me. I made tiny sample skeins (I could have made them up to .5oz each, but I was just in this for the experience). We used copper and alum–some of the dyes did not require mordents, and those, we were able to just throw in the simmering pots.

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After specific times elapsed, pots were emptied into colanders, colors were revealed, and everything found a place on the line to dry. It was amazing to see the effects of different yarn compositions (wool, super wash, cotton, etc), different mordents, and different dye times on the color gradients. Such variety! To me, all of the colors were perfect; but some more experienced dyers were trying for something more specific and they chatted about concentrations and temperatures.

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In the background, children were playing, a couple worked to untangle a skein of frogged yarn (they kept at it for over three hours!), folks grazed on funny baked goods, wandered off to explore the cabins, and even the self-titled “red-neck wedding” in the next cabin down the lane; Cathe of 7 Sisters Farm even managed some spinning.

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One of the most unexpected parts, for me, was the indigo dyeing, which I had heard of but never before seen. I’ll include a little video below so that you can marvel at the magic of Oxygen+Indigo color change too! Oxidation is responsible for the true blue you see.

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The day could not have been more perfect. A little breeze, a lovely group of smart and talented women, and some beautiful color.

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