Post #3251: Summer Textile School Week 4

Week four and I’ve finally started dyeing things!

Cutch dye, fibre and fabric in the dye pot.

While I find the preparation process highly meditative, I was eager to get to the dye pot.
Being able to eventually make garments from ethically sourced fibre and fabric, dyed using methods that are gentler on our ecosystem is hugely motivating to my learning process and so I’m taking care with each step to be careful with water, reuse materials when possible, and ensure I’m disposing of things appropriately.

I also plan to start harvesting dyestuff from around our place this summer – dhalia and tansy are both poking up right now – and a friend brought me a huge bag of Lobaria pulmonara that she collected in the fall. I am excited to use the extracts I purchased from Maiwa as well as the whole stuff available to me. 

Having never done any dyeing except a single indigo workshop last spring, this exploration feels very potent and like it’s coming at the right time in my life of textile-making terms of time/access to materials and the fact that I’m able to approach it from a place of inquiry as opposed expectation or end result. 

Dyeing Activities


  • Watched the third section of caitlin ffrench’s Natural Dyes course at the School of Sweet Georgia. 
  • Read the study notes of other participants in the Natural Study group and wrote my own notes
  • Started dye sample pages in my design notebook

Materials prep

  • Made a tannin bucket, an alum acetate bucket, and a chalk bucket for plant-based fibre mordanting
  • Scoured and mordanted cotton fabric for dye experiments – 12 napkins, a cotton shawl, and some random linens.
  • Scoured and mordanted 2 yards of hemp/cotton yardage that I plan to dye with Lac to make a shirt from.


  • Made a dye plan for yellows and browns. Plans to dye samples with Lobaria pulmonaria, Fustic, Osage, Myrobalan and Cutch. Other than the Myrobalan and Cutch, these are whole dyestuffs. I will overdye many of them with madder or indigo since I’m most interested in yellow as a base for other colours.
  • Starting with Cutch extract from Maiwa I finally got my dye pot going! Dyed 1 small ball of yarn (100 yards), 1 napkin and a fat 8th of cotton fabric. Total weight 139.76 grams. Used 30% WOF – 41.91 grams of extract. Cooked for an hour at temperature and then left in the dye pot overnight. I shifted a piece of the dyed fabric with iron afterwards as well.
  • Did a run of Myrobalan same as the Cutch – 2 small balls of yarn, 1 napkin and a fat 8th of cotton fabric. Shifted some of the cotton post-dye with iron (result: dark grey) and some with a soda ash rinse (result: more golden). I will likely overdye the yarn for my reds project, and some of the fabric I will overdye with a single dip of indigo to produce some teal.
  • Completed a run of Osage Orange dye (derived from sawdust) this morning and articles are rinsed and drying now.
  • Featured image at the head of the page shows articles dyed with Myrobalan and colour shifted with iron or soda ash.

Weaving Activities

  • Finished setting up the 20+ system. It’s ready to go whenever I find time to warp that loom.
  • Warp for JST Episode 2 sample (Asymmetry) threaded. It’s taking me forever to get this on the loom, but I’m beaming the warp this weekend for sure. I’m going to be working through the JST material slower than I initially planned, which means I’m going to be doing that course into the fall – which is fine with me!

Next week I start getting extra days from work for the summer so that will help me advance on the weaving. 

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