Holiday Stitch Exchange: Top 10 Natural Dyeing Gifts

As many of you may know, I would happily spend my days completely and utterly focused upon the practice of natural dyeing. There are so many iterations natural dyes and dyeing can take - such as using natural extracts, foraging within your local natural environment for dyes, and indigo dyeing. Within just these three types of dyes and dyeing, there are thousands of ways in which to create color and explore pattern. I have pulled together a list of my top 10 gifts that I think are great for novice and expert dyers alike. There are even some items which are great for those of you who may be interested in natural dyeing - but would rather participate through reading, knitting, or weaving, than doing the actual dyeing. So here we go!

If you are the foraging type, and would like to explore the world directly in front of you for color, here are some great options. Starting on the left, The Seasonal Color Wheel by Berkeley-based artist and natural dye educator, Sasha Duerr. Known for her Dinner to Dye For, where diners eat locally grown food, and whist cooking, dye is extracted from the food in which is then used to dye fabric, Sasha awakens people to the idea that dye can be found as close by as your kitchen. This color wheel focuses upon plants, many in the forms of vegetables and fruits, when they are in season, and the colors in which they may produce dependent upon the mordant (fixative) used. The book Eco Colour by artist India Flint has completely altered the course of natural dyeing. In this book, Flint teaches and discusses using plant material to print upon cloth. She provides a plethora of photography documenting her results which is quite engaging and inspiring. Harvesting Color by fibershed founder Rebecca Burgess is an all-time favorite. In this book, Rebecca transverses the U.S. documenting flora, and the colors produced, found along the way. The photography, by Paige Green, gives clear indication of the plants, and makes them easy to identify.

To create naturally-dyed goods, there are two basic steps: mordanting and dyeing. The mordant is the fixative, that which fixes the dye to the fiber, and is referred to as the mordanting process. Once complete the dyeing begins. The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing, by Eva Lambert and Tracy Kendall, provides a wonderful introduction to natural dyeing - including both foraged and commonly found imported natural dyes - like madder and cochineal. It provides instrucitons for both mordanting and dyeing. It also includes instructions for indigo dyeing. This book would a great accompaniment to Verb's introductory natural dyeing kit which includes aluminum potassium sulfate as the mordant (fixative), and three dyes: madder (red), weld (yellow), and logwood (purple). Through various combinations of those three dyes nearly every color of the spectrum can be created. We also have pre-mordanted silk scarves. These scarves are a great option for those of you who want to skip straight to the dyeing portion of the process. if you would prefer to skip the dyeing altogether, and to the knitting or weaving portion of the process, there are always Verb's line of naturally dyed yarn. Pictured here is Verb's superwash Merino, fingering weight line of yarn, called Creating, dyed with locally foraged Dyer's Polypore. You can read about the dyeing process here.

Last but certainly not least, there is dyeing with indigo! Through the combination of science and art, there is the magical experience of dyeing with indigo! This process is different than the types of dyeing discussed above. To dye with indigo, the oxygen must be removed from the dyepot, and the dyepot must have an alkalinity of 10.5 -11. We have a starter indigo dyeing kit - which includes indigo, the agent needed to take the oxygen out of the dyepot (known as a vat), pH strips, and a recipe. Undyed cotton bandanas, pictured in the upper left-hand corner are the perfect project to use with indigo, and a great addition to the indigo kit, they are easy to handle and can be twisted and tied in endless ways to make countless patterns. On Sunday, December 14th, I am teaching an indigo dyeing class titled Indigo Furoshiki Workshop. Students will learn how to prepare an indigo vat, and using the bandana as a template, learn to create a number of different patterns through twisting, stitching, and clamping the fabric. These techniques are known as shibori or resist-dyeing. Bandanas can be used as wrapping clothes (known in Japanese as furoshiki) and can be used in place of wrapping paper. Here, you can see it used to hold balls of yarn and a knitting project. So it can be reused once the holidays are over! And for those of you who admire indigo and would like to read about it's extensive history, and how it has been used around the world, Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans, by Jenny Balfour-Paul is excellent - and beautiful. 

Here's a recap -

Top 10 Gifts for Natural Dyers and Natural Dyeing Enthusiasts
1. The Seasonal Color Wheel by Sasha Duerr
2. Eco-Color by India Flint
3. Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess
4. The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing by Eva Lambertt and Tracy Kendall
5. Verb's Introduction to Natural Dyeing Kit: Aluminum Potassium Sulfate, Madder, Weld, and Logwood
6. Pre-mordanted Silk Scarves
7. A Verb for Keeping Warm naturally dyed yarn: Creating (enter coupon code: topdyeinggifts)
8. Verb's Intro to Indigo Kit: Indigo, Reducing Agent, pH, and indigo recipe
9. Cotton bandana
10. Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans by Jenny Balfour-Paul

Today only, all of the above listed gifts are 15% off.

To purchase these gifts, and receive the discount either stop by the shop today (open 11-7pm), call (510-595-verb), or email (info@averbforkeepingwarm). We are happy to ship.

I hope this has inspired you to try natural dyeing! Or to pass on this practice to someone who may.