I like doing crafty reads for a lot of reasons. I am lucky enough to have met many of the authors, and it is fun to see your friends’ knowledge and spirit made corporeal. I want to keep improving my skills as a crafter and read up on new techniques and skills. And I love filling my well with inspiration. This month’s crafty read, The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar ticks all of those boxes.
Everyone who I’ve spoken to about the book says the first thing first, “That book is so beautiful.” The photographs by Sarah Remington are stunning and make the book appropriate to display on your coffee table. It is more than beautiful, though, it is filled with detail on the process of dyeing with natural dyestuffs and you walk away ready to set up your own dye studio. Over and over I was struck by how magical it is that water and the plants in my yard can transform the fibers they touch.
The first chapter is a catalog of materials you can use for dyeing and examples of the colors they can make. I would frame any of those photos on my wall, and the vocabulary of colors is equally luscious. Looking over those pages and reading the accompanying text reinforced that Kristine must be a magician, able to read tiny variables to create these potions of repeatable color.
In later chapters Kristine explains the tools she uses to make magic into science. A dyers notebook is touted as just as important a tool as the water for your dyebaths. The second half of the book is putting these theories into practice with projects you can complete. I was particularly inspired by two of them – flower printing, where you roll up flower heads in a material and come away with a ghostly after image of the flower, and surface design where you manipulate the material before dyeing to create patterns where dye was and was not able to reach.
This book is a special treat and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves beautifully colored fiber, whether you intend to dye or not. I am not sure how much dyeing I’ll end up doing, but I find myself planning a dye garden at home so I have the materials close at hand.
If you would like to read along with me, next month’s crafty read will be Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherly.