Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Craft of Natural Dyeing, Glowing Colours from the Plant World by Jenny Dean

As a novice dyer, I have dyed one skein of yarn using Kool Aid and a couple of skeins of yarn using Natural Earth Dyes.  I have been looking for a book that will provide me with a bit more information about natural dyes but that doesn't concentrate on growing the plants themselves. Jenny Dean herself is a renowned natural dyer who lectures on the subject.  At first glance this is a compact book with large clear colour pictures and generous sized text. The information provided is succinct and reasons are provided for them, such as the use of metal or glass stirring rods or separate wooden stirrers to prevent contamination of the dye batch.  Jenny advised how to mordant fibres to achieve different colours when using the same dye bath.She also explains how to use assists such as cream of tarter in the mordant bath to minimise waste and maximise safe disposal whilst still providing the same results with less mordant.  She provides a range of mordant recipes for animal, vegetable and cotton fibres. The dyer is provided with information on light-fastness of colours and how to carry out a simple colourfastness test which would be useful when dyeing for specific projects. In the second half of the book Jenny Dean provides a list together with photographs showing obtainable colours broken down by dyestuff, fibre type, mordant and light-fastness. She also recommends a list of 7 plants which the reader could grow and still obtain a wide range of colours by the use of colour mixing or over dyeing. This book contains a large amount of information in a concise and useful way.  I myself plan to follow her recipes for mordant baths and believe this will be a useful book for both the novice and intermediate natural dyer.
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