You know what some people say how drug use can escalate out of control and into addiction? Well I don’t know about that, but I do know that knitting and crochet most definitely work that way. It begins with ‘Ooh, I’ll just learn to knit so that I can make this cute hat,’ and then before you know it, you’ve forgotten the names of a couple of your children and there is actual vegetation growing in your kitchen sink, because you’ve become A TINY BIT OBSESSED with knitting a perfect replica of the Mona Lisa in intarsia? (No? Just me, then?)
But even that isn’t enough, oh no. Because once you can knit/crochet, then it’s only natural to become interested in yarn, and from there it’s but a small step towards trying spinning… and dyeing… and before you know it, you’re casually dropping into supper-table conversation that darling, wouldn’t it be a lovely idea to get some sheep to keep in the back garden, just in case the local yarn shop ever runs out of wool… At this point your dearly beloved raises an eyebrow, and moves your drop spindle out of the way in order to reach the salad, and one of your children (it might be Hieronymus, or is his name Wilberforce – if only you could remember!) mutters something about how Mummy has lost the plot… and your dear spouse doesn’t even tell him off for being rude because he was only saying what everyone around the table (apart from you) was thinking.
Gosh, that got a bit dark for a Friday afternoon blog post, didn’t it? Anyway, the point is that with this yarn malarkey, one thing can most definitely lead to another, and there’s a fair-to-middling chance that sooner or later, you’ll wonder what it’d be like to try dyeing your own yarn. At which point, you might like to consider buying this very small, very helpful, and very affordable, book:-
The Little Book Of Yarn Dyeing has just been published. It’s written by Suzie Blackman, dyer at It’s A Stitch Up. (I’ve mentioned her before.) And it is, indeed, little. That’s OK, though, because inside, it gets straight down to the nuts and bolts of exactly what you need to do if you want to dye yarn at home in your kitchen using commercially-produced pigments. (If you need a thesis-level treatise on silk-dyeing in 14th century France, you’re going to have to be prepared to look elsewhere for a considerably larger book. Same if you need advice on dyeing at high altitude. ←Example chosen because the Stoic Spouse and I own The Bread Bible, a book so comprehensively detailed on the subject of making bread that it does indeed include a chapter on how to bake at high altitude.)
This little beauty, meanwhile, is a highly practical book(let) for folk who know a bit about yarn and want to take the next step. Blackman walks us through the principles of dyeing, so that you’ll understand the reasons for each stage of the process. She explains the different approaches (speckling, painting, and so on) that you can use to achieve very different decorative effects.
She’s hot on safety, because some of these chemicals aren’t substances that you’d want to accidentally dribble into your coffee.
But most of all, she provides incredibly clear and helpful instructions for anyone who wants to learn the whole process of dyeing at home in their own kitchen, using readily available equipment. And given that this is a scaled-down version of what she does for a living, it’s fair to say that she knows her stuff. Here’s some of Suzie’s lovely hand-dyed yarn:-
The Little Book Of Yarn Dyeing is available right now, here on It’s A Stitch Up website. It’s priced at £4.50 and she ships worldwide.
Suzie very kindly sent me the free copy that I’m reviewing here, and now I’m eyeing up kitchen equipment that could be pressed into service for dyeing…