Our July meeting is always notable – it’s the dyeing picnic, when we get together with a whole load of pots and pans and buckets and plastic bags full of dyestuff and skeins and – well, that’s the general picture. And it’s fun. Huge amounts of fun.
This year the theme was ‘yellow and blue make green’. There were various things which would produce yellows – tansy, onion skins, gorse flowers,
meadowsweet, willow leaves, heather tips, carrot tops, St John’s Wort and even some begonia flowers – and the aim was to dye our skeins in those and then, after lunch, overdye them in an indigo bath.
We mordanted our skeins first, and soon we were producing a good selection of yellows. Some people decided to do space dyeing, putting only parts of their skeins into the dyebath, while others opted for dyeing the whole skein.
The skeins were rinsed off, and here you can see a good range of yellows:
and then we broke for lunch.
I know it’s not strictly dyeing as such, but the plate lunch is such an enjoyable part of the dyeing picnic, that we have to have a full-size pic:
And when we’d recovered from that lot, we went back outside for part 2.
The indigo bath.
It’s quite fiddly, using an indigo bath when there are so many people involved. But we all understand the need not to disturb the water and thus oxidise the dyebath. In the words of Jenny Dean in Wild Colour, ‘It is crucial not to stir or agitate the vat, or to allow the fibres to drip into the vat. Oxygen will be introduced in this way, and the effectiveness of the vat will be reduced, eventually becoming useless’. We became much more hushed and noticeably calm and gentle around the indigo vat.
The magic of the colour as you gently slide a skein out and see the it change is always enthralling.
It goes blue as the oxygen hits it…
and because our skeins were yellow and being overdyed, we got some fabulous greens:
Here’s a gallery of the day; just click on an image for a slideshow as usual. You’ll notice that some people chose not to overdye all of their skeins, and that others had multi-coloured skeins or, in one case, some fabric samples. Typical of the variety we get at the dyeing picnic. Such a shame that it’s a whole year until the next one!
Rinsing off skeins from a yellow bath
The indigo bath
Skeinds draining off
Fabrics close up
One drying rack
Detail of skeins
(The burnt orange of some of those skeins on the drying rack was from some astonishingly effective onion skins. Amazing!)