Dyeing For Fiber Classes: A Review

As many of you know, there are a lot of YouTube dyeing tutorials out there: some good, some bad, some helpful, some not. Most are piecemeal and–understandably–underproduced and I have yet to find a truly comprehensive explanation of dyeing available on the web. That is, until now! Today, I have a brief overview of some of the dyeing classes available followed by an in-depth review of David Keller’s “How to Dye Yarn and Fibers” class from CuriousMondo. [The YouTube clip you see below is a quick preview of the class]

First up, comparable professional dye classes on DVD or on the web that allow students to take the course materials in at their own pace: Deb Menz’s Dyeing in the Kitchen received some rave reviews in a FB group recently; it’s a paid download (or DVD) and anyone who has attempted to learn about dyeing has surely come across her books on color theory and fiber. Excellent resources, all. Craftsy has had customers clambering for a fiber/yarn dyeing class for a while now; indeed, they *just* released a beginner class called “Professional Yarn Dyeing at Home” with Sarah Eyre. I have heard mixed reviews of this class, but since I have not taken it, I will abstain from any judgements here.

There are also some private tutorials that are terrific and cover just enough information about full immersion, oven, and hand-painted dyeing to send you on your way: Hue Loco is particularly good at providing some fun and easy to follow tutorials for producing solid, variegated, and speckled yarns. And yes, she includes the requisite safety information, even if she does not practice what she preaches in the actual videos. Remember, folks, acid dyes are chemicals and you should avoid breathing them in or getting them on your skin! There is a terrifically wonderful rant about safety issues neglected by a KnitPicks Dyeing Podcast here.

A Brief Review of David Keller’s New Course
Into this somewhat mixed company, I am happy to introduce David Keller’s most recent class on dyeing. At the beginning of the week, I posted about a free dye class that was available through CuriousMondo: “How to Dye Yarn and Fiber” with David Keller of Sugar House Woolworks. I managed to watch the entire class–all 9+ hours–phew!! while it was live and/or during the nightly replay. Happily for me, some of my favorite guild-mates were also in attendance and so we swapped evaluations and thoughts via email for a few days. If you’re considering whether to take this class as a dyeing course, here are a few things to consider (but keep in mind that I am a relative noobie when it comes to dyeing):

This course seems ideal for beginning and intermediate dyers. As a relative noobie, I was able to follow most of Keller’s techniques, listen carefully to the clarifications, and gather a great base of knowledge about the dye process. For those more advanced dyers and/or fiber artists who are interested in adding an indie dyeing component to their fiber business, this class would likely be helpful. The techniques Keller illustrates are varied enough that everyone could learn something new–plus I’ve heard it said that it’s helpful to see how another dyer goes about these processes. No matter who you are, this class is likely to be the most comprehensive online dyeing class available at the moment.

The course is no longer free, but costs about $140; for this price, you have “lifetime” access to the 9+ hours of lessons; downloadable course materials; a bonus class on color palette, record keeping and storage; and a coupon for some fiber (or so it was promised). For a rough comparison, the Deb Menz class is 75 minutes and the download costs about $15; the Craftsy class costs about $30 and contains about 1.5 hours of class time. But neither of these options offers quite as much breadth. A better comparison might be a multi-day festival fiber class–which would cost much more. I’ll let you be the judge–what I can stress, though, is the comprehensive nature of Keller’s 9+ hour class. I filled about 1/2 a legal pad with my notes and at times, I couldn’t write fast enough.

You can check out the original class plan here; note that the last section on overdying and fixing mistakes did not happen as part of the class, but Keller did make several comments about these issues throughout. Also note that the course covers both yarn, roving, and even some lock dyeing. These are the aspects of class I would highlight as major segments:

  • Immersion and low-immersion dyeing
  • Kettle dying
  • Hand-painting
  • Dyeing knitted blanks (several techniques, including sponges)
  • Barrier dyeing
  • Injection dyeing (with syringes); sprinkle and dip dyeing
  • Gradients
  • Dye mixing, water, acid, PH levels
  • Steam setting
  • Color theory
  • Material storage and record keeping
  • Equipment–and tips on where to get cheaper gear!
  • An entire hour on the business-side of indie dyeing

I’ve taken a *lot* of Craftsy classes–and perhaps that has produced a production bias–so I was surprised by the CuriousMondo set-up, which included a hostess who narrated, interrupted, asked questions (many from the online audience), and generally served as an on-screen audience for the class. I will admit that her personality irritated me at first, and I am curious about how the class will be edited for its final version; but in the end, I think her presence did add some value. If nothing else, she stood in for all of the novices out there who had lots of questions and reactions to whatever Keller was illustrating. The audience questions did bring out information that Keller sometimes glossed over–but Craftsy does this too–in a less intrusive way. I’m a bit torn, but maybe it’s just the 9+ hours of class that lulled me into submiting to the CuriousMondo production process. Plus, one mustn’t forget that this was LIVE and FREE: there were all the trappings of a live taping: missing microphones, moments of silence, jumbled question and  answer periods. And I assume that these will be cleaned up for the pay-version of the course.

If I learned anything from all of the teachers in my life, it’s the fact that personality can make or break a class. In this respect, Keller is a phenomenal presence: he’s relaxed, knowledgeable, willing to answer even the most basic question, open and excited to share his experiences, and genuinely seems to love what he’s doing. The live nature of the course could be tricky, but Keller rolls with the drips, the occasional contamination, the awkwardness of the hostess. He’s a cool cat. And I would be tempted to pick his brain even more–yes, even after 9+ hours of his teaching!

In sum, I’d say, the free, live class was an amazing experience, worth the late (replay) hour, the time commitment, and the extra overtime hours I pulled at work to be able to fit in this class time. Thanks, David (if you’re reading!) for dropping the knowledge, as we say in the academy. I feel very, very fortunate to have watched the live taping and I hope Keller gets some great press coverage in social media for his work!

This entry was posted in color, community, indie dyer, learning, online class, review, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Dyeing For Fiber Classes: A Review

  1. Thank you for your input, it was a pleasure to be able to put on the class. I wish we had been able to do more in the class. The last day of filming I was prepping for the class and realized I had overstuffed the class with an entire hour of extra content we couldn’t get to. I have a follow-up class planned for October where we will overdye and fix mistakes we make in dyeing, and cover new topics, and hopefully I can engineer some new effect yarns that I haven’t thought of yet. I’ve got one idea that I think will work but I have to test it.

    Best Wishes,

    David Keller
    Sugar House Woolworks


    • lissymail says:

      David–I’m super excited to hear more about the follow-up class! It was a real treat to e able to spend so many hours with your virtual self; I learned so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. AlohaBlu says:

    Thanks for the detailed info! I wasn’t able to sign up for David’s tutorials, but I am glad you posted your thoughts (and all the links) here.


  3. pdranch says:

    Thanks for pointing out David’s class. I was able to attend all three sessions. I am not a dyer nor do I plan to become one. I am a spinner who has up to this point only spun natural colored fiber. David covered the different dying techniques so well that I feel more confident trying out the different offerings from indie dyers. I appreciate the heads up you gave and love your blog.


    • lissymail says:

      excellent! Yes, I feel the same way: I doubt I will ever become a dyer, but I feel I learned enough to be a more discerning consumer and user of dyed fiber and wool. I’m so glad you were able to take the course! And thanks so much for your kind words 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. knittedblissjc says:

    sounds like it was amazing, what a great review of the experience. I’m not surprised that people are looking for an online version- it feels like everyone is looking to dye yarn these days, but no doubt the in person class must be the real winner. Glad you had such a positive experience!!


    • lissymail says:

      Thanks! And yes, it was super interesting to see all of these techniques on screen in one place. As you know, I have long appreciated the reviews you often post about patterns. It can be such a useful exercise for yourself and others 🙂


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  9. I was working overtime during the dyeing classes, so I couldn’t stay awake. I just wish I’d been able to access it during this week since I did register with their site. I have watched the first spinning class, though, and as a result, I changed my drop-spindling technique. Following David, I smooth the fiber as the twist is entering. I was struggling with some merino/silk I had combed and dizzed into top. Just this one small change fixed the inconsistencies. Usually, I do a short forward draw without smoothing.


    • Aww, darn! Sorry you missed the free access! There is another spinning class coming up, I think, in early December–maybe you can catch that one? I, too, changed up my spinning a bit once I saw his techniques–neat! And . . . well, the dyeing classes were a bit slow, to be honest. So, you didn’t miss too too much 🙂


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