textiles · exploration · misadventure

Lambtown High


brilliant yellow, orange, and fuscia dye jars with a colandar.
Coming down a little from my Lambtown high, but things have been very busy here at the South Van Ness Fiber Institute, which is helping my recovery from the lamest September ever. I’m playing with more natural dyes, including another go at Bougainvillea , and mordanting more fibers. Yesterday I went for a walk on Twin Peaks, and dug up a little invasive yellow dock to play with. Sitting in the sunshine and getting dirty was good for me.

Tall blond woman bending over dyepot. My last class at Lambtown was a dyeing class with Natalie Redding.

During Natalie’s initial discussion, I realized I’d seen her somewhere: here. I found this video while searching for online dyeing information. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but I do remember that Natalie’s video was NOT it—yet it lured me in and I watched it anyway, and then followed it up with Part 2.

Natalie is engaging and smart, and you have to pay attention when she’s talking, because she delivers information like a firehose, which I like. I’m also smart, and I absorb fast, and I like to get my money’s worth, so fast talking firehose=all good.

In her class, she taught us her technique for dyeing raw fleece into a rainbow of colors.

The class was tight—like the fleece judging class, too many students for the available space—and there was a little bit of mayhem, but it was glorious mayhem. Ten or more fleece and dyeing junkies given free junk and told to go at it. And we did.

Natalie's perfect dye pot.

Natalie’s perfect dye pot.

Here’s the beginning of Natalie’s perfect pot of dyed locks.

Once she finished showing us what to do, we were like a pack of schoolchildren released into the wild.

Giant dye jars are fun!She gave us fleece, soap, dyes, and pots. I took a million pictures of the dye jars on the counter; couldn’t get enough of them.

Sadly, I accidentally deleted a bunch of pictures from this class, so you gets what I got left.
Here’s our neighbor students’ perfect pot, once we schoolchildren started getting messy:

The perfect dye pot of the jerks dyeing next to us. (Yes, I'm just jealous.)

The perfect dye pot of the jerks dyeing next to us. (Yes, I’m just jealous.)

And…ummm, here’s ours:
Not-so-perfect dye pot.

Not-so-perfect dye pot.

Oops. We went a little crazy with the blue, the heat wasn’t turned up enough, and instead of striking the wool where it was placed, the blue dye migrated. Everywhere. We dithered, trying to figure out how to save it. We tried this and that. Nothing worked, until Natalie came to the rescue.

And I LOVED her advice: Abandon the plan. Make a new plan. Proceed.

The blue was already everywhere. It was too late to make a proper rainbow pot. The solution was: this is now a blue pot, with some differentiation that will give the final result “depth and dimension*”.

In fact, this may have been the primo thing I learned in her class: Proceed.

Proceed with enthusiasm. Proceed with confidence. Proceed and believe in the experiment. It’s ALL experiments, all dyeing, as a continually repeated color can be hard to replicate, even for professionals.

This class not only increased my confidence in and enthusiasm for dyeing, but Natalie made me feel like there might be a place for me there, that I’m not just some nutjob toiling away, alone in my kitchen, like a mad scientist, but one of a crowd of mad scientists, playing joyfully with our magic potions and living to tell about it afterward at the pub. Like, you know, a normal person. But I digress.

We followed Natalie’s directions, we rinsed and washed, and we came home with fluff THAT I LOVE. THANK YOU, NATALIE!
Blue and green dyed locks, and every color in between.

Blue and green dyed locks, and every color in between.Blue and green dyed locks, and every color in between.

I expect to post about Bougainvillea results on Monday. And if they don’t come out like I want them to, I have a last-ditch effort back-up plan, thanks to Natalie Redding.

*A Natalie-ism, which I’ve found to be true in other dyeing situations. Even if you want to dye something blue, you don’t want just blue, or the color will be solid, one-dimensional, without subtlety. So you add several colors that in the end, mostly add up to blue or are near to blue. Then, you get a blue with personality.

10 thoughts on “Lambtown High

  1. Such beautiful colors. ..being mad for color seems fun.


  2. Wow, that sounds like a terrific class!


  3. Love love LOVE THE COLORS YOU GOT. would like great with my bison, hint hint

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hrrmmm, well, your bison is brown, so the results would not be the same.. We used white/cream fleece here, which results in more brilliancy. Lizzie and I are cooking up a scheme for me to visit soon. Let’s talk!


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  6. This looks like it was an amazing class? I’m intrigued by the bamboo skewers… can you tell me the purpose of those in the dyepot? Thanks!


    • Woah, HI! Sorry for the long delay! It was a really fun class, and Natalie is A HOOT! We used the skewers to place tiny amounts of dye powder into the pot, and to move the wool around tiny bits at a time.