Journal

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 12, Ninebark

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 12, Ninebark

When you first start out trying to tackle a new subject or skill, it seems like all the books on it are written in another language. They’re these monoliths of information you don’t have a key to deciphering. That was me a few weeks ago, picking up natural dye books from the library, reading about it on the internet, and just not being able to absorb much of it at all. I needed an easy way in, just a basic, pared-down, overwhelmed-beginner piece of starter information.  I found that way in with A Garden to Dye For, and began where...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 11, Sweetgum

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 11, Sweetgum

One of the colors that’s undergoing the most drastic transformations for me is pink. I spend a lot of time with pink, as a peony farmer. Pink is peonies’ signature color, and they run the gamut from barest blush to shocking pink. In fact, the reason I began this dye project was to find a ribbon that I could dye just the right shade of pink. What I didn’t expect was to find so much pink, or to have my ideas of pink so changed. And honestly, maybe I ought to call some of what I’m finding something besides just...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 10, River Birch

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 10, River Birch

What I’m loving about exploring dyes (okay, one of the things) is that each of the dyepots I make has a story attached. This bark and these leaves come from the alders that guard the pond. This maple dyestuff is from the climbing tree in front of the house. These are the beech leaves that I embarrassed my son by collecting during his cross-country training.  Of course, commercial dyes have their stories too. May I recommend to you Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed The World as a fascinating look at the story of the birth of...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 9, Alder

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 9, Alder

Alnus serrulata I used to wonder what was wrong with natural dyers, cooing over browns and muddy pinks and yellows. But something really weird has happened. Just over the last few weeks of this dye project, my ideas of color have shifted. Now it’s me going all heart-eyes over warm browns and dusty pinks. Suddenly commercially dyed fabric looks too bright and loud, and the softer, quieter, subtler natural colors have much more appeal to me. They look so real. How did this happen? How did I become one of them? Alders grow in a fringe around the edge of...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 8, Lady’s Thumb

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 8, Lady’s Thumb

I haven’t been using Latin names in these posts because I didn’t want to sound pretentious, but I’m realizing that when it comes to weeds, there are so many local names for things that someone searching might not be able to find my results if I don’t. Interesting to think that I, who am intensely Googling for information on dyeing with plants, will turn around and become Googled for it, but also, what a nice thought, that an amateur can offer her information and help another learn. So. Latin names.  Persicaria maculosa or Polygonum persicaria, common names; lady’s thumb, redshank,...

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