The first rule of Dyeing Club…

… is that you do talk about Dyeing Club. Ceaselessly. Promise I’ll shut up at some point!

We had summer last week – well, four days of it. And so a friend and I seized our chance, packed up dye pots, odd bottles and packets of stuff, skeins of cream yarn, spare wooden spoons, a hot plate, some frozen elderberries, the kitchen sink, and went up to visit another friend, the indie dyer Artis-Anne. She’d not been able to come to our Guild dyeing picnic, so we took it to her instead.

Soon an indigo bath was stinking away in a corner, and various other pots of natural dyes were simmering on any available heat source. We went bonkers space dyeing – dipping one end of a skein in one colour and the other end in another. I cannot tell you what this dye is, because of the second rule of Dyeing Club.

The second rule of Dyeing Club is that you should never, ever make a record of what you’re doing.

It would be far too helpful. It’s also impossible if you’re me because I get too excited. I know what the bath above isn’t – eucalyptus, because that was not good and we threw it away and overdyed the insipid skeins that resulted. We overdyed things a lot and then we ran out of yarn, so Anne retrieved an old cone of commercial yarn and we skeined it off and dyed that too. We dyed our hands, the path and quite a few work surfaces. It’s a good job the dogs kept out of the way, because I feel they’d have dyed up quite well too.

The third rule of Dyeing Club is that you need a dryer where you can hang your dyed wool up for others to see and experience skein envy.

And colour envy.

Remember that I cannot tell you what these are, because of the second rule of Dyeing Club.

I know that onion skin featured, but so did weld, indigo, elderberry, cochineal, madder, a strange old packet of something called ‘natural green’,

logwood, more eucalyptus, and many other things I have forgotten. It’s all a blur. And they all looked lovely and multi-coloured and delicious hanging up:

Except for one area.

The ones on the back strings are mine. I managed to create black. Well, very, very dark brown and a very, very dark purple. And a few other purples. And then a bit more dark purple.

Because the fourth rule of Dyeing Club is that, when dyeing yarn, you really need to send your Inner Goth off into a corner to read a vampire book in peace and quiet.

I got them home, rinsed them off and set them to dry outside, and they didn’t look quite so dark and ominous. Some of the deeper shades washed out considerably, especially the logwood. (I love logwood – it’s not just the colour; it’s also the pirate connection. Really.)

Admittedly they’re in full sun which cheers them up a bit, but they’d still look good drooping around churchyards in Whitby at three in the morning, and I can feel a shawl coming on. Perhaps not. Oh dear, how these things do come back to – appropriately – haunt you!

Still, now they’re fully dry and wound into balls, they’re not so oppressive. Possibly even veering towards pink (agh), which was not what I intended – even if it is a sort of greyish, faded pink.

Shh – I rather like it. But maybe not in a shawl; that would be too much.

And I did put some things in the indigo bath, and they’re not purple. Or pink, thank goodness.

Admittedly there’s an almost black in there, but there’s plenty of blue too – perhaps they could go into a shawl. It would be interesting trying to do something with the commercial 4 ply and also incorporate the small amount of handspun. I’ll have to come up with something soon, because

…the fifth rule of Dyeing Club is that you get together and do it again.

And next time, I’ll remember that fourth rule, and send the Inner Goth away for a holiday. Then, who knows, I may even end up with turquoise, yellow, orange, green, red…


26 thoughts on “The first rule of Dyeing Club…

    1. kate Post author

      Hee hee…

      I can tell you now that indigo will eventually come out of your fingernails. And hands. And wrists. But until it does, people will stop you in shops and say ‘Are you OK?’ in solicitous tones. I tried nail varnish to cover up the nails, but it just made the hands look like something from Revenge of the Zombies.

      1. knitsofacto

        I just had a disaster with some dandelions. I’ve got good strong colours in the past, but this time I just got wee!

        It all sounds like great fun. And I love the colours. Do you need any new club members? 😀

        1. kate Post author

          I’ve only ever got wee from dandelions (‘pissenlit’, after all)… ho ho ho. Ahem. Sorry.

          If we can’t manage to set up a ‘real’ club, we definitely need a virtual one… everyone using the same plants, same mordant, same date, posting the results… oooooo

    1. kate Post author

      Ho ho – next time I’m going for it!

      (I did once have a black cat with a partly blue face but that wasn’t indigo – it was paint. Thicko got his stupid head too close when I was stirring it. He was fine. Yet another embarrassing trip to the vet.)

  1. Lydia

    What a great time… love all the variations in colour. I have bought a eucalyptus cinerea – over here they use the foliage in floral displays.
    Anyway, I am going to plant it in the paddock as it grows rather large – of course I have to do this in order to dye probably one skein of yarn a beautiful shade of red!

    1. kate Post author

      Oh, that sounds fabulous. I’m not sure why we got such a disappointing colour from the eucalyptus – maybe it’s just not been hot enough? Interestingly one of us had baked some bark in the oven a bit before using it, and got a delicious butterscotch colour.

      Another friend has a lovely dying book from down your way (can’t remember what it’s called), and there seemed to be a lot of variation with eucalypts… sigh.

      1. Lydia

        I am surrounded by eucalyptus forest. I have dyed lots of wool from various trees at different times of the year. The trees I used produced mostly browns, yellows etc. but there are others I have not tried yet. The E.cinerea is a guaranteed red or orange. I think you would be able to buy it from a florist over there – the old leaves they throw away would be fine. Over here it gets so hot I have been experimenting with solar dyeing in the summer months which works a treat…. all the jars sit out in the middle of the vegetable bed enjoying the warmth…

        1. kate Post author

          One of my friends trued some solar dyeing last year (we had a little sun early in the sea on). Mind you, she kept to the second rule of Dyeing Club and had no idea what she was using, so as an experiment it was – um, impossible to replicate. Khaki, though. Again. I get a lot of that.

          I shall have a word with local florist about E. cinerea… yo!

  2. karibu57

    My sort of club!!! But can’t start dyeing as well as rest of family might move out…on second thoughts, maybe I will start dyeing :))))
    Love all the colours and would be perfect in club as love mysteries!!!
    Summer still here :))

    1. kate Post author

      Well, I strongly recommend indigo for family-moving purposes, ho ho – it sticks so much that Anne’s had comments from passers by. A container with a lid helps!

      Hooray for summer (had a glitch for a couple of days, but I think it’s back…)

  3. knitsofacto

    I just posted a reply and it’s disappeared 😦

    I was admiring your colours and telling you about my disaster with dandelions. I’ve had good colours in the past but this time I just got what looked like wee stained wool!

    And I want to join your club, pleasssse 😉

    1. kate Post author

      It came back!

      I think we need a dyeing retreat, somewhere in Wales, where we can make a smelly mess without fear of dyeing dogs / complaints from passers by about the stench / turning the path purple and the air blue…

  4. Anne

    I’m late to the party here Kate and you have described the day perfectly and I’m all for a dyeing retreat without the hindrance of my two pooches 😉

    1. kate Post author

      It was lovely, and the Petal Paw Duo are no hindrance at all. Personally, I think they’d look even better in turquoise…

  5. Mona

    Goodness, love all the colours you’ve made – and I particularly love the rules of your Dyeing Club – especially the second, yay to that! 🙂


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