In the Dye Studio: How to Host a Natural Dyeing Party (Part 1)

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 06, 2018 0 Comments

In our newsletter this month, we announced the 1st AVFKW Dye Day, coming up on Saturday, August 25th! August 25th is two and a half weeks out - so it's time to start planning! 

We want to help you plan a unique and fun natural dyeing party with your friends. Kristine, Adrienne, and I have been teaching natural dyeing classes at home and abroad for over 10 years, so we have a lot of experience and tricks for hosting a successful event. Unless you have been stocking up, or have a regular dye practice, you will probably need to gather some supplies and materials ahead of time - so let’s get started now!

Your guide throughout this process, other than these blog posts, is our book The Modern Natural Dyer. MND (as we call it) was published in October 2015 and is a great resource for new and experienced dyers. I use it as a reference in the dye studio at least once every week! If you don't have a copy yet, you can purchase a signed copy (including a naturally dyed bookmark) from our website here.

We stock all the scours, mordants, dyes, indigo suppliesdyeable fabric, and yarn that you'll need to get your party started! Check the end of this post for a discount you can use when you purchase natural dyeing supplies from us - including your copy of MND.

The two types of dyeing that we think work best in a group setting like a dye party are eco-printing and indigo dyeing. These two processes are pretty different from one another and require different tools, materials, and preparation. I'll help you pick which type of dyeing you'd like to host (maybe you want to do both!) and make sure you have all the tools and information you need. This blog post overs eco-printing - click here to read the indigo post. 

Eco-printing is the process of pressing whole dyestuffs, like flower petals and leaves, into fabric, bundling the fabric tightly together, and heating it in a dye pot. Your fabric must be scoured and mordanted before applying your dyestuffs, and you'll want to make sure you are using some plants that are listed in MND (like marigolds, cosmos, and coreopsis) that give good color and are lightfast. 

Eco-printing works well with a wide range of fabrics, from light weight wovens to jersey to heavier flannels, and any natural fiber type including wool, silk, cotton, and linen. It's great for small to large projects - you could dye fabric to make the sewing kit from MND (page 79), a project bag for your knitting, or an Endless Summer Tunic.

To host an eco-printing party, you'll need your dyestuffs (you can grow these, purchase from a nursery, or carefully forage for them), dowels or branches, strong thread, and a medium-sized pot to hold the bundles from each of your party-goers. You'll also need a heat source (like your kitchen stove or a propane burner in your backyard). Your attendees will need to scour and mordant their chosen fabric ahead of time. Tell your friends to scour at least 2 days in advance and to mordant at least 1 day in advance - so they arrive at your dye party ready to go. They can easily dry their fabric out to make transportation easier.

Once your supplies are gathered and your friends have arrived, follow the directions for the Flowers At My Fingertips Sewing Kit (page 79). After everyone has carefully unwrapped their bundles, do a little show and tell so everyone can see what was made!

Eco-printing supplies to gather:
+ Fresh flowers like marigolds, cosmos, and coreopsis
+ Dowels, PVC pipe, or sticks, approx 1-2" in diameter, 1 per person per fabric
+ Medium to large pot (20 qt should fit approx 8-10 bundles)
+ Button and craft thread, or other strong cotton string
+ Tongs, rubber gloves

Eco-printing homework for attendees:
+ Scour your fabric at least 2 days in advance and mordant at least 1 day in advance before the party (see MND pages 56-59)
+ Bring some flowers, leaves, or other plant material from your garden

Eco-printing tips and tricks:
+ We recommend that 80% of the dyestuffs you are using are plants that you know produce color on cloth. Experimenting with a few plants from your garden can be a lot of fun but this helps avoid disappointment when you unwrap your bundle.
+ If your friends are dyeing similar looking fabrics, tie a small piece of colored thread around your fabric (or embroider initials) in order to tell them apart
+ Be careful when unwrapping your bundles - even if they feel cool to touch on the outside, they may be hot inside! Have a couple buckets of cold water on hand to rinse and cool your bundles before opening.
+ If you wish you had more color on your fabric, don't despair - you can put fresh flowers down, retie your bundle, and pop it back in the pot again!

To be continued in Part 2 ... click here to read about hosting an indigo party.

Use the hashtag #AVFKWDyeDay on your IG photos on August 25th to see people around the country hosting their own dye party! We also have a brand new hashtag for IG photos of in process and finished objects using materials you have purchased at AVFKW. Tag your photos with #Verbalong, and be eligible to win a gift in our monthly drawing!

Do you need help selecting the appropriate scours, mordants, and dyes? Give us a call at 510-595-8372 or email info (at) averbforkeepingwarm (dot) com and we'll help you out.

To celebrate and prepare for the upcoming dye day, we are offering 15% off natural dyes, kits, The Modern Natural Dyer, and more. Enter AVFKWDyeDay at checkout to receive your discount.

-- Sarah

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The Modern Natural Dyer Book Tour: Nashville and Japan!

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 23, 2017 0 Comments

Interested in learning about natural dyeing? My book, The Modern Natural Dyer, can guide you!

In September, I am traveling to Nashville to teach at Craft South - a shop filled to the brim with fabric, yarn, and creativity. We will spend two days together. You will learn how to extract color from whole flowers, highly concentrated plant extracts, and indigo!

Class Title: The Modern Natural Dyer: An Introduction
Location: Craft South, Nashville, TN
Dates: September 15 and 16, 2017
Click here to sign up.

Then, in November, I am teaching at Art Biotop in Nasu at the Amirisu Fall Retreat. Nasu is about an hour train ride from Tokyo and is highly regarded as a place of utmost beauty. Together, we will create fabric printed with flowers. You will learn how to create an indigo vat, dye with indigo, and how to create patterns using shibori. We will take walks, go the hot spring, and eat delicious food.

Class Title: Amirisu Retreat 2017
Location: Art Biotop Nasu
Dates: November 2-November 5
Click here to sign-up.

By attending a workshop you will be well on your way to developing your own personal practice using natural dyes, and you will see nature in a whole new way!

I am so excited to take The Modern Natural Dyer on the road, so I can work with you one-on-one, and introduce my book and natural dyeing to you in person. I hope you will join me! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

-- Kristine


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SQUAM Art Workshops June 2017: Taste of Squam

Posted by Kristine Vejar on February 01, 2017 1 Comment

Last year I had the opportunity of teaching (indigo dyeing and eco-printing) at Squam Art Workshops housed within a resort on Squam Lake in New Hampshire. This was my first time visiting New Hampshire and attending Squam Art Workshops. It was incredible.

We flew into Manchester (so sweet and little when coming from Oakland). As we drove towards Squam Lake, the roads began to narrow, from a highway, two two-lanes. I stared out the car window as we passed hundreds (maybe thousands) of lush green trees. Every now and then, there would be a break in the trees and I would see a peek of the dark blue water of a lake. As we pulled into the driveway at Squam, there was instantly a feeling of celebration and joy. Excited campers were exiting their cars, unpacking luggage, finding their cabin, and in anticipation of a weekend of making!

As a child we had family friends whose cabin we would visit in Northern Minnesota. The cabin was located on an island, make of logs, and didn't have electricity or running water. We spent our days hiking and swimming. It was divine and still is the place where my mind wanders when thinking about the happiest times in my childhood. While Squam is definitely a bit more cushy (electricity, indoor plumbing, a beautiful dining hall where delicious meals are prepared and includes a waffle bar and ice cream counter), Squam is the closest thing I have been to resembling my childhood memory of "the cabin up north".

At Squam, my cabin was located on the lake. There was a fireplace in the center of the cabin. And a wrap-around, screened-in porch looking out on the lake - with rocking chairs. Though early in the season, I jumped in the lake and went swimming. Others rented kayaks to explore the lake. One of my favorite activities while there was knitting on the dock.

I have some exciting news for you! Usually, you have to sign-up for the weekend of making in order to attend Squam Art Workshops - but this year, in celebration of Squam Art Workshop's 10 year anniversary, Elizabeth, the founder has created Taste of Squam, a mini-retreat where you can come and spend Saturday and Sunday - eating, drinking, knitting by the lake, and joining us for the Squam Art Fair on Saturday night.

Registration is now open. Click here to sign-up.

This year, I am teaching again at Squam and can hardly wait to get back to the lake. I hope you will join us!

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Stitch Exchange: Dye-It-Yourself Eco-Printed Table Linens

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 10, 2016 0 Comments

Announcing our newest natural dyeing kit: Dye-It-Yourself Eco-Printed Table Linens

Dye your very own set of table linens using California botanicals - like eucalyptus leaves and marigolds. These table linens will add a special handmade touch to your holiday table. And are also very easy and fun to make!

In this kit, you receive:
+ 4 Fog Linen placemats (100% linen)
+ 4 Fog Linen napkins (100% linen)
1 spool of button and craft thread
+ Mordant
+ Eucalyptus leaves and marigolds

To complete this kit, you will need:
+ Scissors
+ Bucket
+ 1 stainless steel pot (approximately 5 quart)
+ Spoon


Before we begin to eco-print and dye, it is important to take the first two steps to take to ensure good results: Step 1 washing and Step 2 mordanting.

1. Wash the table linens using laundry soap (without bleach) and hot water in your washing machine. You do not need to dry them.

2. Fill a bucket with water. Add pre-measured mordant to the bucket. And stir. Add the table linens. Stir. Let rest for 6 hours. Rinse.

3. Place one of the washed and mordanted napkins (or placemats) on a clean, flat surface. Place leaves and flowers on the napkin in a design of your choice. Fold to envelope the leaves and flowers.

4. Roll as tightly as possible into a bundle.

5. Wrap the bundle tightly with button and craft thread.

6. Fill a pot with water. Place the bundles into the water. Heat to 180-200 degrees for at least one hour. Marigolds impart color upon the cloth faster than eucalyptus leaves. If your design includes the leaves, for the best color, heat for at least 2-3 hours. There are times I have left my dyepot for 8 hours in order to draw out as much color as possible. If I do this, I make sure to check on the pot every so often and add more water.

7. Allow the bundles to cool. Once cool, remove the thread, unwrap the bundle, remove the plant materials, and admire your results!

8. Rinse with cool water and dry.

Now these are ready for your next Fall dinner party! Need ideas for what to cook? Here is one of my favorite cooking blogs

If you would like to learn about more plants which have great dyeing potential, and have access to a plethora of natural dyeing recipes, pick up a copy of my book, The Modern Natural Dyer.

-- Kristine



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The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: The Field and Forest Dress

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 10, 2016 0 Comments

For the month of July, the focus of The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along is The Field and Forest Dress. This is one of my favorite projects in the book! I always enjoy sewing a new dress, and this pattern is particularly easy to make and fun to wear. Plus, it is zero-waste, which means you use every scrap of fabric, so nothing goes to waste!

I love creating patterns which are basic and create a canvas to modify, so you can really make it your own through choice of fabric, dye, length, and other modifications, like adding pockets! The dress would be beautiful made from a variety of fabrics. Everything from a cotton lawn (imagine this in Liberty), to linen, to even light-weight wool blends. Also, it can be shortened, to make a shirt, or lengthened, for a floor length dress. 

The first step in making this project is to sew the dress. Then, comes the dyeing process: scouring, mordanting, dyeing, and washing.

One of my favorite collections we've made in the studio is the one featured in the photo on p.89 - which features a row of Field and Forest Dresses all dyed with materials fairly easy to find across North America; walnut, yarrow, osage, eucalyptus, and oak galls. This project discusses the amounts of these materials you will need to make a variety of shades. I love seeing the range of color which can be made from the local forest. A great companion book to The Modern Natural Dyer, which features many plants foraged from across the United States, is Harvesting Color, by friend and local dyer Rebecca Burgess. 

Have you made the Field and Forest dress? If so, ping me on Instagram and make sure to hashtag your photo with #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong - so we can keep up with your progress!

Thanks for reading!

-- Kristine

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