Kim's Blog

Archive for Nature Dyeing – Page 2

Spring has sprung

Yarns nature dyed from spring flowers.

Yarns dyed from spring plants and flowers.

The weather on the west coast has been glorious.  The garden is filled with leaf buds unfurling and spring flowers in full bloom. Here is a photo of my first round of nature dyeing from some of our beautiful spring flora.  From top to bottom we have:  the exhaust from hydrangea leaves, hydrangea leaves, woodland violet leaves, exhaust from lilac flowers, lilac flowers, woodland violet flowers, lilac leaves and bachelor button buds.  Poor bachelor buttons, I did not even give them a chance to bloom, but I got what I was hoping for…….a beautiful off white.  A great start to the nature dyeing season wouldn’t you say?

For Edith

In the comments on yesterday’s post Edith expressed an interest in growing dahlias like the ones I had used to get the orange skeins.  I thought a few photos might help her.  Good luck Edith!



Dahlia centers after petal removal.

Dahlia centers after petal removal.

Preparing dye liquor, petals only.

Preparing dye liquor, petals only.

Nature Dyeing Workshops

Transmuting Nature’s Pigments

Armstrong, B.C. in July and Prince George, B.C. in October


Wool silk blend

Johannes Itten once wrote…

”Only those who love colour are admitted to its beauty and imminent presence.  It affords utility to all, but unveils its deeper mysteries only to its devotees.”

The beauty, depth and richness of colour waiting to be harvested from fresh plant material is unparalleled and reminiscent of the colours we see in centuries old European tapestries and antique Japanese textiles. Discover the cornucopia of colour that can be extracted from plants and, with Kim’s help, learn the alchemy involved in:

  • extracting pigment from fresh plant materials
  • working with historically significant dyestuffs such as logwood, madder, osage orange and cochineal
  • dyeing with some of the newer nature dyeing extracts on the market
  • mordanting wool so that it is as light and wash fast as possible and
  • sustainable and safe harvesting techniques

Dahlia petals left and dahlia centers right.

The skeins is the photo at right are a good example of the subtleties in colour that participants will learn about when transmuting plant materials into dye pigments.  The skeins were dyed with pigments extracted from a red coloured dahlia.  The dahlia centres like the petals render an orange.  But the orange from the centers is slightly toned down and contains a bit of a greenish brown tinge.  Yum!

April 16th – Living Colour Talk

March 14, 2015

IMG_1757I was invited to speak to the Vancouver Weavers and Spinners Guild at their April 16th meeting…..about my experiences with dyeing over the years, my colour journey and some of the discoveries made along the way.

Colour is what drives me. What I am passionate about. It is why I weave, spin, knit and create.  Almost every day I do something related to dyeing….either researching, winding skeins to get ready for the spring and summer’s dye days, trying new ideas that won’t stop niggling at me after popping into my head in the middle of the night , pushing those “I wonder if….” boundaries, experimenting, or working with fibre/yarn I have dyed.  When it comes to talks, however, I am more used to sharing technical information.  The hows and whys of the dyeing process.  So my first thought after the invitation to speak was….”Oh my goodness what ever will I talk about?” but, as I pulled photographs into a slide show…….my thoughts are…”How do I cut this down to a 45 minute to 1 hour talk?”

The most interesting thing I learned in preparing this talk is that I seem to have come full circle.  After 30 years I am back to exploring colours gleaned from plants…….those colours that mesmerize me when I look at antique tapestries and Japanese textiles.  But I have returned to the nature dye pot with a slightly different bent….pictures of which I hope to share over the next few months.



Logwood Extract

Dec. 22nd

I have all the Shetland spun up for a knitted cape for my daughter who is a fan of natural coloured fleece.  But the dyer in

Shetland handspun dyed with Logwood extract....

Shetland handspun dyed with Logwood extract

me cannot leave well enough alone.  Yesterday I dyed a 30 g skein in this lovely purple, using Maiwa’s logwood extract.  All that colour on 30 grams of yarn with just 0.24 grams of extract.  The other colour I plan to dye is a bit of madder red….the madder root is steeping as I write and should be ready to use in a few days time.  Merry Christmas……

Spinzilla 2014

2,472 yards - Spinzilla 2014

2,472 yards – Spinzilla 2014

Well, Spinzilla is over and all the yardage spun over the last week has been counted.  In my spare time amongst visiting with friends over tea or dinner, a Nature Dyeing demo at the “J” and teaching spinning lessons I managed to spin 2,472 yards.  I am looking forward to hearing the final yardage Team Vegan Yarns managed to spin as whole.

The brown skeins are a soft silky dark chocolate Merino for fingerless gloves.  The white skein and the grey singles on the spinning bobbin are Shetland for a Fair Isle knitting project and the blue is a sample for a small shawl I have in mind.

15 nature dyed samples

15 nature dyed sample

Here are the samples skeins we dyed at the Jansen Art Center earlier last week.   We dyed fingering weight wool with madder, osage orange, logwood, cochineal, padauk, cherry bark, veronica leaves, dahlia petals, Connie apple peels, sunflower seeds, sunflower petals, walnut husks, millet and hibiscus.  A huge thank you to the J for allowing us to use their Alley Workshop for this introduction to Nature Dyeing.  Cheers all.

Dyes from my garden

Hollyhock, orange lily, maroon lily, mustard and magnolia.

Hollyhock, orange lily, maroon lily, mustard and magnolia.


July 21, 2014

Spent yesterday coaxing beautiful soft neutrals from plant materials found in our gardens.

Todays dye run uses more traditional dyestuffs such as madder, osage orange and logwood.