It’s summer (really), so it must be the dyeing picnic…

Our dyeing picnic is a lovely day, spent in an ideal setting – the garden of a cottage on the north side of the Llyn, overlooking the sea. And it really doesn’t matter one iota when the mist rolls in, because we all have so much fun. We also have a gazebo, a cottage to disappear into, and waterproofs if we need them.

This year’s day was roughly based around natural dyes from the kitchen, and many people brought along materials,

ranging from a large carrier bag full of nettles to a small jar of turmeric.

Our dyers inevitably end up with an abundance of small skeins, and several people had also brought along finished work to show what could be done with bits and bobs. This is a shawl, worked on a knitting frame

and here is a detail of a jacket:

It’s wonderful how well the natural dyes generally work together; clashes are comparatively rare.

There’s inevitably a bit of preparation involved. We have to differentiate our skeins; some people use torn up sheeting strips with their names written in indelible ink, some go for distinctive yarns or buttons, and one person labelled her skeins – appropriately – with discarded sheep ear tags:

The dyestuffs need preparation too, and this year we had a bay-leaf disintegration team at work:

Soon the dyepots were hubble-bubbling away, the first three being substantive dyes (so the skeins did not require a mordant). They were turmeric, tea and bilberry. While they bubbled, the remaining skeins were getting the alum treatment ready for the rest of the dyes.

Here is a turmeric-dyed skein, drying on the fuchsia (we had to move some of the skeins to the shelter of the bushes while we had lunch, as a little too much sea mist came rolling in). Summer…

but what a wonderfully sunny colour.

These rather more subtle ones were dyed with tea.

The next batch of dyepots went on the heat,

containing nettles – in the wonderful iron pot in the foreground, deliberately used for the modifying effect of the iron  – and saffron, and at the back, onion skins and coffee. We also had plum, elderberry, blue corn,

fruit teas (an experiment) and the chopped bay leaves.

And what did we get? Well, some wonderful things:

And how about this combination?

Or these, twisted together ready for their journey home?

There are a lot more photographs on a Flickr page, so do have a look!

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6 thoughts on “It’s summer (really), so it must be the dyeing picnic…

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