It was, oh, about ten years or so ago that I stumbled across the Leisure Arts leaflet that introduced me to dyeing cross stitch fabric using RIT dyes. That was my first foray into dyeing. It was fun and messy. I loved it. I continued to do it until I moved into this house and no longer had a place to do it.
These days, you can buy (synthetically) hand dyed needlework fabric from Picture This Plus and other places and it is wonderful. But it’s difficult to find *naturally* dyed fabrics. Like tea dyed or specific plants that can be used as a dyestuff. It is easier to find yarns and general fabrics that’s naturally dyed.
So I decided a while ago that I am going to do it myself. At first, I thought I could just wing it like I did with the synthetic dyes. You know, read the back of the package and go to town. But there’s no directions on the back of coreopsis flowers, or dahlias, or eucalyptus, or well…anything that grows out of the ground.
So I read a few books, like The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar. I made copious notes. I made lists and bought supplies. I set up a room in my house for dyeing. (Hotplate in transit and not everything pictured).
As I was doing this, I got this harebrained idea that I should do this as a long-term investment and sell my extra dyed stuff and grown supplies to make the investment worth it. So I did all the business-related things to start my own business: picked a name (Tubaville), filed with the state and federal government, got a tax ID, etc.
This is going to be a long-road “hobby” business. To make this fully sustainable, I will be growing and collecting my own dyestuffs. My gardens are going to be amended with dye plants: cosmos, coreopsis, marigold, red hopi dye, black hopi dye, goldenrod, yarrow.
It’s winter here in Minnesota right now so there isn’t much to scavenge but I have gone on hikes to look for oak galls (unsuccessful) and did find a tree of dead birch leaves (successful!). It will be a lot more fun when my world is in full bloom.
Mostly I want to share my adventure with other people. This is a link to our past. Just like small and medium-scale farming has made a comeback, I think it is the same for natural dyeing.
At times, I feel a little overwhelmed like I did when I first started quilting. There is a big learning curve. It is a lot more complicated than the synthetic dyeing I did on my back porch. But the process to get there is rejuvenating and I’m really enjoying it.
Everything I do is tied together. I cross-stitch and use my pieces in quilts. I quilt and hand stitch a lot. And now I will dye the fabric for the cross-stitch again and the circle will be complete.