THE NATURAL DYE GARDEN Natural dyes are both beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. A natural dye garden will give you eco-friendly, natural dye pigments for textiles and yarns, Natural dyes have a unique character – they shimmer beautifully in sunlight and never clash. Growing plants for dyeing is an ancient craft but it is making a comeback. As interest in eco-friendly products and methods grow – it is no surprise that many creative people are planting their own natural dye gardens today. If you are considering creating a dye garden aim by initially growing the three primary colours – blue, red and yellow – from these the full rainbow of beautiful colours will be available to you. Below are a selection of seeds/plants I grow which provide me with immeasurable pleasure – and I hope will inspire you! 18 varieties to choose from. Attractively packaged - making a special gift for the natural dyer.
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I love working with natural dyes - keeping an ancient tradition - exploring natural colour and being close to nature. Many people don't ever consider that mass produced clothing dyed with synthetic dyes are dangerous for us and our environment. These chemicals pollute the air and waterways, they can irritate consumers skin - causing allergies and eczema. We can benefit from the healing properties of many plants in different ways - from herbal teas, culinary herbs and infusions and also by transferring plant properties onto our fabric. Making your own natural dyes at home can be done easily - it is so fascinating! If you are not able to grow your own plants for dyeing - below are a selection of natural dyes which will provide you with an amazing range of fantastic colours! All the instructions can be found on our HOW TO pages in the main menu above. Just scroll down the menu to find your selected dye.
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Madder Rubia Tinctorum – also called Turkey Red The roots of this ancient plant are rich in red alizarin and are the source of a strong red dye. The uniforms of the British Red Coats were dyed with madder root. It is a perennial plant growing to a height of approximately 100cm. It has slender, jointed stems which are covered with short prickly leaves. The flowers are small green/yellow and bell shaped. In the late autumn the seeds turn black and dry out to resemble black peppercorns. Madder can be propagated from seed, root and shoot divisions. 10 madder rhizomes EACH 4 - 6 INCHES IN LENGTH approx weight 400g.
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Mordants and Assistants
Mordanting is a very important step in successful natural dyeing - yet it is often rushed or even omitted contributing to disappointing results. Mordants facilitate the bonding of the dyestuff to the fibre. It provides flexibility as the fibres can be mordanted in advance, dried and dyed later - or mordanted and dyed in one day. If you have time and patience - leaving the mordanted fibre to "cure" for a few days before rinsing results in deeper shades on wool and silk. I do not use or recommend mordants such as chrome, copper or tin as they produce toxic waste which requires special disposal and are a health hazzard. Mordants such as as alum, iron and tannins are safer to use and can produce multitudes of beautiful colours used in conjunction with the appropriate dye.
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As alpacas become more and more well known across the world, their popularity is growing for various reasons. As livestock, as hobby farm pets and as therapy animals they shine. However, the most important role alpacas fulfill is undoubtedly as a source of some of the most outstanding natural fibre available. There are many benefits relating to alpaca fibre:- The fibre is exceptionally soft and has a very fine diameter. It has a reputation for being lovely and warm in the winter yet cool in the summer. It is beautiful to spin and knit with. It felts well. It takes natural dyes amazingly well. Try it and see for yourself!
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Prefelt is partially felted wool used in wet felting, nuno felting, and needle felting projects. Here is a selection of quality IDEEN prefelt shapes made from superfine Merino 19.5mic.
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Silk Scarves for Dyeing
PONGE 5 & HABOTAI 8 - a fine smooth fabric with a very soft texture. Natural white - perfect for dyeing and for you to create your own design. Silk is a most versatile fibre for dyeing and there are several techniques to explore - including:- Block dyeing, batik, shibori and eco-dyeing. BLOCK DYEING- simply follow the dye instructions on our HOW TO page to create a beautiful naturally dyed scarf using a colour/dye of your choice. SHIBORI- to make a shaped resist pattern part of the fabric has to be bound, clamped, folded, pleated, stitched, twisted or wrapped before dyeing. The dye penetrates the non-resisted areas only. After dyeing and once the fabric is released from its binding a positive and a negative design is shown. VISIT OUR SHIBORI AND INDIGO DYEING FOR BEGINNERS WORKSHOP ECO-DYEING - Once you discover this simple, eco-friendly natural dyeing technique - you will never look at leaves, flowers and berries the same way again! Using nothing but certain foliage and a few helpful tools you can create beautiful patterns and designs on silk - with no harmful chemicals in sight! Often silk is sold as prepared for dyeing - however, to be extra thorough - when purchasing these scarves for dyeing - scour to remove any dressing:- Fill a bucket with sufficient water to cover the fabric without crowding it. Add about 5ml of eco liquid soap for every 500g of fibre, and mix well. Add fibre and heat gently - 140 degrees F for 1 hour. Allow to cool and rinse in warm water. Visit my INDIGO DYEING BLOG to see how I dyed a larger piece of silk which I used to make a silk tunic. SILK CHIFFON SCARVES Luxurious pure crepe chiffon - light and soft. Lightweight natural white silk chiffon. The preferred material for nuno felting due to its lightweight and looser weave - allowing woollen fibres to penetrate with ease. Ideal for both nuno felting and natural dyeing. NUNO FELTING - a technique of layering very small amounts of wool onto a woven fabric - usually silk. Through the felting process, the wool fibres migrate into the fabric. For more information on how to nuno felt visit my FELTING page on the HOW TO dropdown bar.
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Below is a selection of gifts that would please the traditional crafts enthusiast.
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