The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Naturally Dyeing Cotton Socks

The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Dyeing Silk on Creativebug Reading The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Naturally Dyeing Cotton Socks 6 minutes Next The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: January Wrap-Up

Wow! Here we are in Week 3 of The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along! The focus of this week's work is the project Sock Hop. I think of Sock Hop as the sister project to the Northwoods Hat.

When writing The Modern Natural Dyer, and having decided to include both protein (animal and insect)-based and cellulose (plant)-based fibers, originally I conceived of having two chapters spanning the use of natural dyeing extracts; one which focused upon working with protein-based fibers, the other focused upon working with cellulose-based fibers. When all was said and done in the editing process, due to the overarching way we organized the entire book, we decided to create only one chapter dedicated to natural dyeing extracts. That said, in the Natural Dyeing with Extracts chapter, the first half of the chapter does focus on protein-based fibers, and the second half of the chapter is dedicated to dyeing cellulose-based fibers. So, if you can envision pulling this chapter apart into two sections, as described, you will see that that projects pretty much mirror one another in design. The Northwoods Hat, due to its small size, is opportune for teaching people how to use natural dyes and the shade card for protein-based dyes. And Sock Hop does the same for cellulose-based fibers. Note that there are two shade cards; for this project, use the one dedicated to cellulose-based fibers, on page 98.

I think of this project as a warm-up project for learning the process of natural dyeing on cellulose-based fibers. All of us have a pair of cotton socks hanging around that could use an upgrade - so why not use them in this project - and learn a few new natural dyeing skills? If you have completed the Northwoods Hat project, you will see when approaching Sock Hop, that the scouring and mordanting materials and process is different than when working with wool. And though the dyeing process is similar, the amount of dye you need, and the color achieved from using that dye is different. This project is a great foray into learning how to naturally dye cellulose-based fibers, preparing you to work with linen, hemp, ramie, or bamboo.

Moving onto this week's project: Sock Hop

A few reminders:
+ use your dye journal to record the weight of the socks, and use this measurement to calculate the amount of scour, mordant, and dye you need.
+ wear a mask when measuring aluminum acetate. It is a very fine, easily airborne powder. Once you have dissolved the aluminum acetate in water, you can take off your mask.
+ socks typically weigh less than 100g, so when scouring, mordanting, and working with the shade card, just use a little less scour / mordant / dye. Refer to page 66 on pointers for adapting your dyeing recipe.
+ if using brand new socks, sometimes there is a crease from where the socks have been folded due to packaging, when scouring, mordanting, and dyeing, work on opening that crease by massaging the fibers. This will help apply the color evenly throughout the socks.

In the studio, Sarah, Lis, and I have scoured and mordanted our socks. I am going to spend a couple days in the forest hunting for mushrooms. When I return, Sarah, Lis, and I will dye our socks. So very soon, hopefully by Monday, we will post our progress. 

In the meantime, here are a few ideas in case you would like to personalize your project:

+ Choose which shade of color you would like to make by consulting the Shade Card for cellulose-based fibers.
+ Add your socks slowly to the pot of yarn, in 15-20 minute increments, and make an ombre pattern.
+ Clip your socks with clothespins to make square shapes. See how I did this on page 185.
+ Tie threads tightly around the socks to make rings and patterns on your socks, similar to the technique I use in the Confetti Cowl, page 128.

Sock Hop Natural Dyeing Kit by A Verb for Keeping Warm

If you have purchased The Sock Hop Kit - the scour, mordant, and dye are pre-measured for you. During the scouring portion of the process, you add all of the scour, during the mordanting part of the process, you add the mordant. Let's pause for a second in the dyeing part of the process. You have received enough dye to make the darkest shade on the Shade Card for cellulose-based fibers (page 98). If you would like to make a lighter shade, measure out the amount you would like to use to get the intended shade. No worries if you don't have a scale, you can use measuring spoons.

If you have purchased the MND Work-Along Phase 1 kit - or you have purchased scour, mordants, and dye a la carte, then you will measure each ingredient according to the instructions in the book. You have the choice of using measuring spoons or a scale.

Tomorrow, I have another video coming out on Creativebug where I teach you how to naturally-dye cotton socks. I love having the videos to accompany The Modern Natural Dyer, and the blog posts, because you can really get a sense of the action, and the camera picks up such great details.

Unfortunately, there is a misprint in the book - which I'm bringing to your attention as it has to do with cellulose-based dyeing - and since you are now exploring that section of the book. (For those of you who have purchased kits, this will not effect you currently, as you are working with wheat bran).


This bath can be used for up to 100g of goods.

Dissolve 28g chalk...(not 50g).


For those of you who have purchased the kit, we have shipped you the first part, so if you have not received it, you should be receiving it very soon. And for those of who would like to join in on the fun - it is not too late to purchase the Phase 1 Kit.

Or if you would like a smaller start - there is a kit to make the Socks. In which you get all of the materials you need to prepare the socks for dyeing and the dye!

It has been so much fun to watch people's progress on Instagram! Remember to add #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong to your projects so we can keep up with you.

Happy Dyeing!
-- Kristine