The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar, photography by Sara Remington, pub. STC Craft, 2015.
This very thoughtful guide to natural dyeing captured my heart and my imagination. It explores various dyestuffs and encourages experimentation. It includes knitting and sewing projects as well as ready-made items. And it presents everything in an easy-to-use format without excessive page turning and cross-referencing.
The author is Kristine Vejar, of A Verb for Keeping Warm. She has worked in Washington, D.C.'s Textile Museum and traveled to India on a Fulbright to study natural dyeing.
The first chapter includes a glorious gallery of natural dyestuffs in various forms and used on various materials. A short paragraph describes each one, what it looks like and the range of colors it produces.
Sara Remington's photography is sumptuous, and Alessandra Mortola's choices, styling, and backgrounds all work together perfectly. The accompanying text is succinct yet informative, including tips on where to find plants and how to extract the dye.
Then comes a brief overview on choosing fiber. It covers animal, silk, bast, seed, and fibers manufactured from natural materials.
Chapter 3 is the heart of the book: Dyeing 101. The steps are outlined, as well as features of indoor and outdoor workspaces, recommended and optional tools, and the value of a dye journal (as well as what to record in yours).
Then each step is detailed, with supplementary photos. Natural dyeing seems a little like making tea . . . in an extraordinarily large pot!
The "Dyeing With Whole Dyestuffs" chapter includes several fetching projects including an adorable and useful sewing kit done with "eco printing." This involves rolling whole flowers up in the fabric before simmering.
The "Dyeing with Extracts" chapter features a couple of shade cards (one for protein-based and one for cellulose-based fibers) and volume-to-weight conversion charts.
There are also eight projects including the useful Wanderlust Bags and the beautiful Sandstone Shawl (below). Each project clearly states a list of skills you will learn as you work.
The next chapter explores indigo dyeing, an intriguing process which is different from other natural dyes.
The final chapter covers surface design: painting and resist dyeing. Resist dyeing interests me the most. It uses thread, yarn, and even wooden blocks to create color patterns.
Kristine includes a resource list, bibliography, and glossary, as well as an index. But this inspiring book is full of interesting trivia and gorgeous photography, even if you never put dyestuff to pot.
I recommend this book for lovers of color everywhere, as well as those interested in natural dyes.
Disclosure: The publisher sent Kangath a review copy of this book. Kangath was not otherwise compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in Kangath's reviews are her own.
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