Exploring Plant Dyes

It always amazes me what range of colours you can get from plants and plant material. Not only can they be subtle and delicate, they can be strong, punchy and vibrant. Plant dyes offer us a natural alternative to industrially used dyes. Often coming directly from the plant itself or from plant extracts. This can cut down on the harsher chemicals used in the process of industrial dying. Synthetic chemicals used in a majority of large scale commercial dyeing processes can pose hazards to the people working with them and the environment they may come into contact with. Plant dyes and the mordants used to treat the yarn in the smaller scale hand dying process, if handled properly, are often (depending on the material) less of a risk to the dyer and the environment. Plus plants offer us a renewable source of dyeing material and if farmed or gathered responsibly are much more sustainable and have less environmental impact.

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At Knit With Attitude we stock a range of plant dyed yarns and I will take a little look at them below. I shall be focusing on Hey Mama Wolf and G-uld. Both Small scale producers, dyeing yarns with plant and natural dye stuffs. Both Hey Mama Wolf and G-uld focus on the craft skills involved, with a respect for the environment and the process of creating beautiful yarns. Both learning form nature and how the change of seasons brings different qualities to dyeing. Respecting old traditions, while also bringing them into the present.

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G-uld labels showing the combination of materials used to generate different colours.

What I love about natural dyes is the combination of natural materials that go into creating a range of colours. This is shown most with G-uld and in some Hey Mama Wolf skeins. G-uld have labeled the combinations that go to creating each colour. Different amounts of each dyestuff creating different saturations of colour.

Let’s look at these yarns in more detail and check out some project inspiration.

Hey Mama Wolf

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Hey Mama Wolf is the creation of Jule. Based in Germany, she dyes her yarns naturally and also most of the yarns themselves are, sourced and processed locally to her. She works from her home which is an old watermill in Prignitz. To read our interview with Jule, check out our earlier Blog Post.

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First up we have Sockyarn #04. A sturdy 4ply sock yarn which is a blend of Merino, Corriedale and Ramie Fibre. Ramie is a plastic free alternative to nylon and is a member of the nettle family. Sockyarn #04 is soft but crisp, will give you good definition and great for textural stitches. Not just for socks, it would be great for any garment.

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Here’s a groovy sock pattern that highlights this yarns crisp definition. The Practice Theory Socks by Roos Vlaskamp. Great for a quick one skein project.

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Next up is Schafwolle #03. A 100 % Organic wool from small farms in North and East Germany. A blend of Merino and Black Face sheep processed and spun in Germany and the Czech Republic. A worsted weight yarn perfect for colour work or textured jumper projects. Will give great definition and hold pattern well.

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Who could forget Moonbow by Jule herself. A great relaxed jumper from Pom Pom 26 – The Moon Issue. Perfect for showing off your favourite colour. Plus you even get the opportunity to use some Sockyarn #04.

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Lastly but definitely not least from Hey Mama Wolf is the Ahimsa No.10. So much luxury in these 50g Skeins. Ahimsa is a 100% Organic Peace Silk. Ahimsa means non-violent in sanskrit and the production of this Indian yarn allows the silk moths to hatch from the cocoons. It’s lace weight with a slightly matte feel, but still the sheen you expect from silk. Perfect held double with another yarn or on its own for a wonderful heirloom piece.

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Create something of beauty with this yarn, knit lacey! The stunning Fylleryd by Mia Rinde would be ideal. Lace pattern repeats will give you an elegant shawl you will treasure and can be knit in one or two skeins.

G-uld

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G-uld are based in Bredsten, Denmark and dye and teach all things natural dyeing. G-uld is based on solid craftsmanship, with an understanding and respect for material, quality and nature. Their colouring and choice of products are rooted in old traditions, and with a great desire for where the past meets the present. To read more about them see out earlier Blog Post.

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We stock their dreamy Alpaca yarn which we have in 20 dyed colours and 2 natural shades. Dyed on the white and grey bases with various combinations of natural dyes to give a great range of colour. This yarn has lovely drape and ideal

for anything from accessories to jumpers and cardigans.

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What better way to explore these colours than with a dreamy fade project. The Dip Dye Kids Beanie by Camilla Vad uses three shades to create the most sumptuously soft and cosy little hat.

I hope this post has encouraged you to look at plant dyes and made you think. They are not just washed out and insipid, but fun, bright and inspiring!

Of course if you want to have a go at plant dying yourself we have the natural dying kits from Hey Mama Wolf. Including Yarn Dying kits and Eco Print Fabric kits.

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New Yarn: G-uld Naturally Dyed Alpaca

We are beyond excited to be the first stockist of G-uld! G-uld is an independent yarn dyer in Denmark who dye exclusively with natural dyes. These stunning range of colours are concocted with pure artistry. Their ethos is based on good craftsmanship, with understanding and respect for the material, quality and nature. Their production and materials are rooted in old traditions and with a great desire for the past to meet the present.

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G-uld was founded in 2013 by Anne Støvlbæk Kjær and Louise Schelde Jensen and the team now consists of Anne Støvlbæk Kjær, Louise Schelde Jensen and Daniel Ejler Christensen.

“First and foremost, we want to deliver delicious plant-colored yarn, beautifully designed and inspirational. Knitting joy, presence and good experiences that come from working with good craftsmanship and good materials. And an insight into historical dyeing of textiles and yarn.”

Their interest lies in bringing us back to hand skills. Where mass production and technology has made us lose touch. In the past the hand skills of the individual was often a necessity and way of life. These crafts often involved nature and the craftspeople and nature were at one. There was a knowledge in the year’s course, materials, and accessibility. But these crafts still live on and in a busy world it is important to remember them.

“For us, the good qualities of the materials and exciting history ensure that with the work of the hand they can create unique things, and perhaps through the process, achieve mental health. We believe that in the 21st century we need unique elements – and good craftsmanship that has taken time to make, is definitely worth waiting for”

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Now for the yarn itself! A super soft, 100% Alpaca in a collection of 20 amazing naturally dyed shades and 2 undyed. G-uld Alpaca is a 4Ply weight yarn with a lovely twist, making sure you get a superb stitch definition. A luxurious yarn perfect for your new favourite jumper, cardigan, hat or shawl, the possibilities are endless. Each colour is labelled with the natural dye material used to develop that specific colour. Anything from Madder Root to Walnut and many in between.

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A new yarn needs new inspiration so here is a selection of great projects to get you started. In store we have, the Rambling Rose Jacket, Westwind Cowl and Sunflower Beanie.

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Here is the Rambling Rose Jacket by Susie Haumann. A simple open jacket edged with a pretty cable detail. Seen here in strong deep purpley-red from the cochineal dyed KWA01. The alpaca would make this a wonderfully soft top with great drape, the perfect warming layer.

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The Westwind Cowl by Louise Schelde Jensen will highlight the texture of this yarn and give you great definition. A simple mesh pattern is repeated with garter ridges in between. Give yourself over to the colourful joys of this yarn and knit this pleasing warm cowl.

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The Sunflower Beanie by Marie Mønster lets you play with two colours. A perfect two skein project and a great way to experiment with this yarn. It’s clever design creates a spiral of stitches reminiscent of the seeds lined up in the centre of a sunflower. Seen here in the Madder Root dyed KWA08 and the Undyed Grey.

You have to see this yarn to believe it, the amazing skill of the dyers and the ability to produce such an amazing range of colours with just natural materials is mind blowing. Whats more it’s on the most gorgeous base you could imagine.