Posts Tagged ‘hand dyed’

Dyeing to Try This

July 18, 2019

My three and a half days at the Strung Along Retreat in beautiful Washington state seems like eons ago even though it was only last month. I’d best share some memories before they fade completely.

Imagine a gorgeous resort inn on an ocean bay, surrounded by hills and parkland and furnished with lovely rooms, each with a giant jacuzzi tub. Pretty nice, huh? Now imagine 45 Fearless Knitters from around the US and Canada, sharing delicious meals, plentiful beverages, encouragement, creative pursuits, and three days of learning and laughter. Glorious!

Dear friend Cathie took a short (if long delayed) flight from Vancouver, and we carpooled across the sound and around the Olympic peninsula.

We were all divided into three groups for the daytime activities, coming together for meals and evening festivities.

Each day was devoted to a single craft: cooking, dyeing, and knitting. Since my dyeing experience is limited to tie dye t-shirts at a Y day camp in central Maine, I was most excited about these sessions.

If you can make a cup of tea, you can dye wool.

Judith MacKenzie, Dyeing Wizard

Our instructor, Judith MacKenzie, is a renowned fiber artist who’s taught and studied for decades around the globe. Her manner is matter-of-fact and completely approachable. Upon my return, I described her to a friend as a Dyeing Wizard.

Before we got our hands wet, Judith explained how dye works — the actual chemistry and physics of dye molecules bonding with fiber. Hues, tones, and shades were explained. I think I’ve got notes somewhere.

Judith created her own line of dye powders, which work on any protein fiber. They’re considered among the best in the whole dyeing world — not just knitters, also among clothing and other textile artists.

You trespass against your own color palette at your own risk 

Judith MacKenzie

Everyone had a grand time dyeing different types of fiber in different combinations of dyes. The pots are former electric canning pots, which heat the liquids to a very low simmer — a high temperature being needed to get the molecules moving so they can push into the wool fibers.

Look at how different yarns change when put in the same dye bath.

One after-dinner activity was dyeing with indigo — which is kind of like magic. Look carefully at the bins that hold the indigo bath. The liquid is a green, not the blue that you expect. That’s because the indigo interacts with oxygen — the color appears after it comes in contact with the air. See the fabric that’s floated to the top of the bin — it’s starting to turn blue.

Most of us dyed a basic silk scarf. Here are a few drying on a tarp-covered rug. The black striped one was colored with Sharpie marker before dyeing. How clever!

Several adventuresome souls were game for Judith to give them an indigo streak in their hair. After all, hair is a protein and thus, dyeable.

Did you notice Pam’s exquisite stranded sweater? In addition to being a kind, humorous, and generous woman, she is a very talented knitter. I mean, seriously.

I brought home two skeins of yarn, each dyed in a Mason jar. The blue-green is as I’d imagined. The orangey-green skein is less differentiated and more “blended” than I’d anticipated.

I’m still pleased with them. The question now is what to make? All suggestions welcome!

Gift-Knitting Jump Start

September 29, 2016

Just a couple of days after her new speckled, hand-dyed yarn dried, friend Shelley had selected complementary yarn. Look how great the green and blue (Encore by Plymouth Yarns) pick up the similar colors in her hand-dyed sample.

green and blue balls of yarn with sample of hand-dyed yarn

By now, I expect she’s already cast on and is creating a great hat that one of her grandbabies (-children, -nieces, -nephews) will open in late December. Christmas knitting already? Sigh.

What’s on your needles these days? Or on your gift-knitting list?

Been Dyeing to See You!

September 19, 2016

I’m supposed to be hiking the tallest peak in Maine right now, but a forecast of three days of >60% chance of rain forced me to change my plans. The likelihood that my hiking companions and I would be able to reach the summit were pretty slim and the chance of an 11.5 hour round-trip drive and two nights in a lean-to were 100%. There’s always next year….

With a “free” Sunday, I decided to visit the Stitch House, a nearby yarn store that I’d been meaning to get to for ages. Yesterday was also the final day of the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, which means special events and sales. I found both.

When I arrived, Shelley, founder of the wonderful Sheep Ahoy Knitters Cruise, and Diane of Lady Dye Yarns were at a back table with white yarn, cups, water, gloves, and loads of little bottles of dye.


Shelley was creating an Irish flag-themed skein as Diane demonstrated the finer points of dipping and stirring.


Shelley’s a quick study. Her next skein was speckled, not dipped. (I have no idea if “speckled” is the proper term, but it works for me.)


As befitting a local yarn store, the Stitch House sells lots of locally-made yarns — some from Boston (like Diane’s) and others from around the Northeast US. Check out this worsted from Molly Girl.


Sister-friend Cathie is a big fan of purple and pink, so I had to take a photo for her. The Rockstar colorways are named after songs. This one is named “Dancing Queen” and get this…


…the lyrics are printed on the label!

I couldn’t resist a skein of Lady Dye’s worsted in Luna. I don’t know what it will become, but it’s ready to go when inspiration strikes.




Eclectic Cowl

March 24, 2015

Until I made an Eclectic Cowl for my old long-standing friend Beth, I’ve never known the artist who created the yarn for my project.

Diane, aka Lady Dye, is a talented local fiber artist here in Boston. Her “urban-inspired yarns” are inspired, in large part, by street art. Her hand-dyed, multicolored yarns are simply exquisite and the colorways are delightful. My skein was from JP Knit and Stitch in Jamaica Plain.


The pattern is simple and shows off the color changes beautifully. It reminded me, in many ways, of the Yarn Harlot’s Encompass Scarf (one of my favorites).

Dear friend Beth, whom I’ve known and loved since we were in grade school in central Maine, says she just loves her birthday gift. Doesn’t it look great on her?!


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