Fibre to Dye For

A couple of days ago we had our Guild annual Dyeing Day. This is held at a members house rather than the community hall we usually meet at and this year it was hosted by Katie at her home and dyeing caravan on the edges of Snowdonia.

Katie probably lives the furthest away of all our guild members in a really stunning part of Wales so those of us who were able to go piled into car shares to head over to her home in the hills – as our friend Jill “Wrigglefingers” who was also able to join us for the day commented as I drove through some of the glorious scenery “Why does Mid Wales have to be so heart breakingly beautiful…”

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It was looking particularly lovely on Saturday because the weather was glorious and there were lots of flowers out in the garden – Katie’s mum Elaine is a green fingered wizard and I have serious garden envy whenever I visit!!

Katie, Jill and myself dye on a fairly regular basis and some other participants had done some dyeing before but the group also included eager newbie dyers so Katie ran through her method for measuring and using dye stocks, soaking fibre and explaining her set up whilst we all had a coffee (with a bit of heckling from Jill and myself) before everybody was let loose on the fibre and dyes.

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I disappeared into the little bathroom part of Katie’s caravan to soak everybody’s fibre with the hose as the tubs were passed to me through the door and Katie and Jill started to help everyone sort out what colours they were wanting to use and get their dyes ready and take them into the caravan to be painted on rovings, tops and in some cases knitted sock blanks laid out on the long worktops.

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I commandeered the stockpot and gas stove (although I left the lighting of it to Jill – euwww scary gas, uh oh, I am a chicken) to help those who’d brought fleeces dye them with the stove top method. Once everybody had got some fibre dyed and wrapped up ready for steaming/cooking or simmering it was almost lunchtime and we headed up to the BBQ to get it lit and the food everybody had brought to share laid out.

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We mostly managed to squeeze into the “bus stop” to have a really cracking lunch (our guild is a bit of a legend when it comes to bring and share lunches!!) and then it was back to see what marvels people had created on their fibre now it was ready to take out of the oven or steamer and also start on some more batches of dyeing.

I love this photo, I just popped out of the caravan and took it without really thinking so I’m not sure what going on – I can’t decide if there’s a mass break out of food poisoning after the sausages (not really lol!) or if a fleece had escaped and provoked a fibre hunt, presumably a little bit like a paper chase. Only fluffier…. ;0)

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The heat really started to crank up in the afternoon what with the caravan effectively being a metal box in the full sun, the oven and steamer on and quite a few hot sweaty and increasingly multi coloured ladies splashing dye around as inspiration struck. I somewhat rashly offered to dye some silk top my friend Dawn had soaked but didn’t think she had the energy left to dye – it seemed a shame not to get some dye on it as it had been soaking ready since the night before and I wasn’t planning on doing any dyeing for myself as I do quite a bit several times a week now. It turned out there was over 400g of top in the bucket though and wrangling it was a bit like juggling slippery sausage skins before stuffing them (I had a sausage business in a former life so I have a LOT of experience in wrangling sausage skins – the similarity between soaked pig guts and soaked silk top is alarming…) Silk top is more tricky to dye than brick, harder to get the dye to penetrate to the centre and I started to fret it wasn’t going to come out very well. Dawn liked my suggested colour palette but somehow it went a bit out of the window due to various factors and it all came out a lot lighter than I’d planned. I like it though – and thankfully she does too. Although if she decided she didn’t, at least two of us would have been happy to take the whole lot off her hands… ;0)

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Happily the other dyeing that people had done was just gorgeous and everybody was apparently thrilled with their dyeing – I think there was an awful lot more than I took pictures of but people had started to go home so I missed to take photos. here is what I did manage to snap – sometimes by barking at people to “put it back!!” because I hadn’t finished taking photos… ;0)

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It was a long and fun day – my shoulders got quite toasted in the sun and I was so tired driving home I just completely missed the turning to drop one of my friends off in her village so had to take the scenic route through Welshpool (sorry folks!) to get back on track.

I’ve had a day off since and today I’ve been shearing the last of my sheep for 2014 but I’ll be back in the saddle dyeing again tomorrow but for BarberBlackSheep this time – hopefully some more bags of dyed fleeces to go in the shop and for carding into batts.

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4 thoughts on “Fibre to Dye For

  1. Such a wonderful blog! You are living our dream too. Looking forward to reading more about all the wonderful things you enjoy doing as it is so well written. Oh if you are wondering how I came across you it was because of a British Spinning newsletter. Not a whole lot here in Australia. Katherine

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