Dyeing, SweetGeorgia

Deeper into Colour

The Coquitlam Guild gave me a chance to speak last Thursday about natural dyes and natural fibres, and while I did talk about my experiments with natural dyeing over the past few years, including starting up the Supernatural SweetGeorgia collection of naturally dyed yarns, I think I ended up talking about dyeing and craft and burnout. How do we renew and regenerate ourselves after burnout? Do we even come back to the craft which took us down in the first place? I related this to principles and values that I learned in the completely unrelated activity of surfing and talked about how it gave me back the balance, simplicity and focus, and the appreciation to even attempt to dye things again. I’m not sure my “surfing as metaphor for life” goes over in weaving and knitting circles, but it’s the honest truth about what I believe.

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Superwash Sock in Riptide

I talked about changing my dye practice from very sharply variegated colourways, requiring a shameful amount of plastic waste, and moving towards a more water- and energy-efficient workflow. That is the reason I have moved more towards kettle-dyeing, semi-solid shade colourways and multiple colour overdyes… so that I could better take advantage of the low-impact benefits of acid dyeing.

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CashSilk Lace in Deep Olive

Also, I related to the guild members how natural dyeing is not a benefit to the environment for larger scale operations and noted how Lorna’s Laces Green Line ended up being dyed with conventional synthetic dyes.

Regardless of natural vs. synthetic dye sources, I’ve also tried to implement the colour principles that I learned from Michele Whipplinger including the idea of chromatic neutrals. That is, I’m trying to dye more complex browns and greys as opposed to colours that are so obviously… colourful. Colours that are slightly desaturated and more rich in depth.

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Merino Silk Lace in English Ivy
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Merino Silk Lace in English Ivy, Rip Tide, and Black Plum

I’m also working with a new 50/50 silk and merino laceweight base yarn. It’s a slightly heavier laceweight, but so glossy and gorgeous. It’s 765 yards in a 100 g skein and I’m looking forward to knitting up something like a Swallowtail Shawl in it. It has been, so far, taking the colour so well and I’ll be adding it to the online shop soon too.

There are so many things to learn and so many things to explore. I’m happy that I’ll be spending the summer dyeing more of these deeper, richer colours in preparation for the autumn.

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About Felicia Lo

founder + creative director of SweetGeorgia // designer + dreamer // wife + mama // dyer, knitter, spinner, weaver, youtuber + author // been writing this blog about colour and craft since 2004 // see what I am making @lomeetsloom and @sweetgeorgia.

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28 thoughts on “Deeper into Colour

  1. Aislin says:

    Firstly, Riptide is gorgeous.

    As a knitter, I’ve been thinking about how the colourways that are most beautiful and appealing as yarn are often the most difficult to work with. Semisolids are lovely in a quieter way than the attention-grabbing variegated colourways, and much, much more versatile.

    Which is to say, I guess, that I look forward to seeing more of your semisolids. (And, especially, greys!)

  2. Aislin says:

    Firstly, Riptide is gorgeous.

    As a knitter, I’ve been thinking about how the colourways that are most beautiful and appealing as yarn are often the most difficult to work with. Semisolids are lovely in a quieter way than the attention-grabbing variegated colourways, and much, much more versatile.

    Which is to say, I guess, that I look forward to seeing more of your semisolids. (And, especially, greys!)

  3. Lisa says:

    Very nice post. I am a huge fan of the deeply saturated semi-solid colorways.

    I’d love to learn more about the natural dyeing and environmental impact. Thanks for the link.

  4. Lisa says:

    Very nice post. I am a huge fan of the deeply saturated semi-solid colorways.

    I’d love to learn more about the natural dyeing and environmental impact. Thanks for the link.

  5. ann says:

    wow – all those colors are really beautiful. I love the semisolid nature of them.

  6. ann says:

    wow – all those colors are really beautiful. I love the semisolid nature of them.

  7. claire says:

    oooh, I love that riptide sock yarn, can’t wait to find it up on your site

  8. claire says:

    oooh, I love that riptide sock yarn, can’t wait to find it up on your site

  9. Carin says:

    I love the idea of chromatic neutrals. It’s just so beautiful and sophisticated.

  10. Carin says:

    I love the idea of chromatic neutrals. It’s just so beautiful and sophisticated.

  11. Felicity says:

    This sounds like a great new direction. I do find the semisolids much easier to use with a variety patterns, and your neutrals are gorgeous. (Hope you won’t forget about the obviously colourful though – I LOVE those :0)

  12. Felicity says:

    This sounds like a great new direction. I do find the semisolids much easier to use with a variety patterns, and your neutrals are gorgeous. (Hope you won’t forget about the obviously colourful though – I LOVE those :0)

  13. tiennie says:

    What gorgeous yarn colors!

  14. tiennie says:

    What gorgeous yarn colors!

  15. Jenn says:

    (I have interned with MW of Earthues and do only natural dyeing)

    I think natural dyeing can be very eco friendly on a large scale, but not for some colors- chromatics are a good use of natural dyes because you do not necessarily need to do a lot of dye baths to get the color or waste a lot of excess dye.

    Depending on the importance of color matching you can reuse a lot of the water. Use alum dye baths repeatedly, reuse rinse water, and use dye baths multiple times (a really strong cochineal dye bath will also make lighter colors for pastel shades or for overdyeing).

    Not to say that some aspects of acid or natural dyeing both aren’t eco friendly. Both have their downsides, in the same way that some synthetic fibers can be better for some applications than natural fibers.

  16. Jenn says:

    (I have interned with MW of Earthues and do only natural dyeing)

    I think natural dyeing can be very eco friendly on a large scale, but not for some colors- chromatics are a good use of natural dyes because you do not necessarily need to do a lot of dye baths to get the color or waste a lot of excess dye.

    Depending on the importance of color matching you can reuse a lot of the water. Use alum dye baths repeatedly, reuse rinse water, and use dye baths multiple times (a really strong cochineal dye bath will also make lighter colors for pastel shades or for overdyeing).

    Not to say that some aspects of acid or natural dyeing both aren’t eco friendly. Both have their downsides, in the same way that some synthetic fibers can be better for some applications than natural fibers.

  17. sweetgeorgia says:

    @Jenn Earthues is fantastic, isn’t it? Yes, I totally agree that both acid and natural dyeing have their upsides and downsides. And definitely, you can reuse water for both processes. I am thinking more along the lines of dyeing strong, deep colours (of which I am so fond)… I don’t typically dye a lot of pale pastels for whatever reason. But yes, overdyeing is a good way to exhaust natural dye pots.

    Another change that I have adopted is using the extracts that Earthues provides as opposed to the raw woodchips and saw dust. There’s a lot less rinsing required to get all that particulate matter out of the yarn.

    It’s good to have options. :)

  18. sweetgeorgia says:

    @Jenn Earthues is fantastic, isn’t it? Yes, I totally agree that both acid and natural dyeing have their upsides and downsides. And definitely, you can reuse water for both processes. I am thinking more along the lines of dyeing strong, deep colours (of which I am so fond)… I don’t typically dye a lot of pale pastels for whatever reason. But yes, overdyeing is a good way to exhaust natural dye pots.

    Another change that I have adopted is using the extracts that Earthues provides as opposed to the raw woodchips and saw dust. There’s a lot less rinsing required to get all that particulate matter out of the yarn.

    It’s good to have options. :)

  19. moirae says:

    The plastics are driving me crazy too. I’m still trying to think my way through this problem, although I love the semi-solids you’ve been dyeing. My lines are not as clean as yours are anyway, so sometimes I wonder about the hand-paints. I enjoy the surprises involved with kettle dyeing and am starting to think of a color way recipe as something more like x amount of green x amount blue poured in stripes rather than 3 stripes of x, 2″ wide and so on.

  20. moirae says:

    The plastics are driving me crazy too. I’m still trying to think my way through this problem, although I love the semi-solids you’ve been dyeing. My lines are not as clean as yours are anyway, so sometimes I wonder about the hand-paints. I enjoy the surprises involved with kettle dyeing and am starting to think of a color way recipe as something more like x amount of green x amount blue poured in stripes rather than 3 stripes of x, 2″ wide and so on.

  21. Lin says:

    What an interesting post. Your semi/solid colours are beautiful.

  22. Lin says:

    What an interesting post. Your semi/solid colours are beautiful.

  23. jen says:

    If there was an agree button on your blog, I’d use it for Aislin’s post. Rip tide is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see it available on your site!

  24. jen says:

    If there was an agree button on your blog, I’d use it for Aislin’s post. Rip tide is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see it available on your site!

  25. Ana says:

    as always so so lovely Felicia!

  26. Ana says:

    as always so so lovely Felicia!

  27. June says:

    And if you had an “Agree” button, I would agree with Felicity! I love the semi solids and monochromes and there is a lot to be said for the deeper more rich tones! I love them!

  28. June says:

    And if you had an “Agree” button, I would agree with Felicity! I love the semi solids and monochromes and there is a lot to be said for the deeper more rich tones! I love them!

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