A Friendly Guide, to The Next Step
"Girl, I'm scared. It can get messy."
"You can't control the outcome."
"It's expensive, if you wanna do it right."
"How's my family gonna' deal with this?"
Along our journey as yarn enthusiasts, dyeing is something we'll all eventually come to grips with. And it's scary. You've certainly heard of others who've attempted this––and reaped disastrous results. As a product of the RIT® generation (remember your first tie-dye?), I wanted to dye easily and at home with a minimum of fuss. But I thought real dyeing entailed a separate kitchen, lot of equipment, and, if you dyed naturally––a beautiful house by a stream. Well, the only folks I knew who had that were fiber people––read wealthy hippies, so my palette and money, was essentially confined to what was commercially available.
In 1984 "I'd Rather Dye Laughing" by Jean M. Neel (Graphicom Inc.) a wonderful little booklet, now enjoying a comeback among collectors of esoteric fiber manuals, was an introduction to casserole and microwave dyeing. Ahead of its time, it redefined the relationship a lot of us had with our stoves. But then came the sudden explosion of the contemporary yarn market with its burst of color and texture, and home dyeing was once again placed on the back burner, relegated to a world of crones with large cooking pots, selfishly not used for food.
Linda's book from Potter Craft, out this month, puts dyeing back into the homes of the masses. I love it. She shows you there's an easy way for everyone to dye, and guess what? You don't have to be a "fiber person." You can re-dye that ill-fitting sweater you received from your aunt, to re-gift for the office grab bag! And parents, you can dye with your kids. Kool-Aid® is safer than RIT (for dyeing; I don't drink the stuff.)
Ms. LaBelle has done her due diligence. She starts with a complete overview regarding safety, materials, dyes and techniques. In subsequent chapters, an easy to use brand is explained, complete with a project you can make up, or you can dye a knit or skein you already have––no more ugly yarn! The lavish photographs aren't for their own sake; they bring life to the instructions and positive reinforcement for what you can achieve, apropos for a book about color. Now, the large amount of equipment called for in the beginning may seem off putting, but some ot the techniques, such as dyeing with food coloring, don't require a major outlay; dyeing doesn't have to be costly.
For a glimpse into the other side, Linda has interviewed seven major professionals that we all want to know and who've lived to talk about it, including, yes! the women of Koigu. Not only do I now have a deeper appreciation for the love and effort that goes into hand dyed yarn, but the inspiration has given me the courage to take the next step––becoming the hit of the office grab bag. Just kidding, auntie.
Linda La Belle, the wonderful owner of The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn, New York, is a former costume designer who worked with Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle and costumed several sculptures for Keith Edmier, one of which ("Beverly Edmier") is in the permanent collection at the Tate, in London. Her first book signing is November 16th at Habu Textiles, New York. The following two book signings will be at The Yarn Tree.