Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Natural Dye Studio

I don't often blog about other companies yarns. As an indie dyer I have rather a lot of stock and to encourage sales do most of my projects in the same yarn. But I have followed this company for a while and bought the odd skein here and there. The Natural Dye Studio is the brain child of Amanda Perkins. The company is joined by her husband Homer and daughter Daisy. If you follow this blog you know I have an interest in natural dyes and dyeing and have practiced (in the true sense of the word) the art for the last 25 years or so. I mostly sell synthetically dyed yarns and keep my naturally dyed yarns for my own projects.
Natural dyeing is a very time consuming skill and so this company has my admiration as they do this for a living. They are one of only two companies I know off that dye and sell yarns to knitters dyed with plant Colours. Amanda has honed her skills over a number of years full-time and her careful choice of luxurious yarn bases really make her dyes glow. If you thought natural dyes produced a pale, neutral palate, visit the NDS website and be amazed by the depth and brightness of colours she achieves. Photos don't really do the yarn justice.
I bought a handful of yarns on my recent trip to the UK in February with the idea of weaving with them. I picked 4ply BFL wool yarns with a high twist as I knew they would be sturdy enough for both warp and weft. I added a couple of my own naturally dyed yarns although they only represent about 10% overall.

The colours here are a bit distorted as it was indoor light.

I use an End Feed shuttle made by LeClerc which really do help make lovely straight selvages. The tension can be adjusted on the shuttle to match the yarn you use. I finished the shawl with a crochet edge (because the edges looked too plain). The sett for these yarns were 12dents per 2.5cms. I twisted the fringes and washed the shawl which did not change much in length and width. There was very little residual dye colour in the wash water. Pressed the cloth has lovely drape and I'm really pleased with it. Number 2 is on the loom.

The shawl took me 1 day to warp (for 2 shawls) and weave with lots of interruptions from the phone and customers. I always choose simple weaves for the work loom as I know I'm going to be up and down a lot.
I made it even simplier by changing the colours when I felt like it with no formal plan. Easy weaving.

When you take into account the time and effort, not to forget the skill that The Natural Dye Studio put into their yarns I feel the price is extremely reasonable. Naturally dyed yarns should command a higher price since the dyestuffs are more difficult to source (be it plant material or their extracts), more expensive than synthetic dyes, require very different procedures even for individual colours (indigo is a vat dye for example) and are time consuming as many of the colours require a pre-mordant bath and greens are usually dyed in a traditional dyebath followed by a dipping in the Indigo vat. I think the amount of work is probably unappreciated by the bulk of the yarn buying craft community.

 Therefore it is difficult to earn money based on the amount of time you put in and the extra costs that most of us indie dyers don't have. Regardless of the general lack of knowledge surrounding natural dyes, the colours are very special. There is a yellow base to all the colours (which is hard to replicate with synthetic dyes) which means they all blend beautifully together.

They have a luminous quality and in weaving where colour is laid over other colour this produces a really pleasing effect. Other shades are produced by this crossing of the threads.

So Thank you Amanda and team. I think there will some more NDS yarns joining my stash.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Before and after the dyebath

It's always a risk putting dye onto handwoven cloth. But anyway I've always been a bit impetuous with my crafts, taking scissors to my knitting and crochet, or in this case scrunching and over dyeing.
It is a sample despite being a scarf and it has given me a guide to what I want to do next.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Still weaving

All on the same warp.
The hand dyed alpaca semi solids are so much more interesting to weave with than commercial yarns. I love the subtle shading and depth. 2 scarves on the same warp. One finished and the other one is getting some resist threads woven in at the same time. I'll pull these threads to scrunch up the finished fabric and add a bit more colour with dye. These are 'samples' for a bigger project.