A couple of weeks ago Maya and I spent the most magical of times in Denmark. Being the first ever stockist of G-uld we were excited to really understand the ethos and process behind this wonderful company. Having admired posts from other attendees of G-uld’s workshops we couldn’t wait, we were really going!
We arrived in Copenhagen and after a day of sight seeing we took a train to Vejle in Jutland. We waited excitedly at the station to be picked up and taken to our home for the next couple of days and met some fellow workshopers also waiting. After a short drive from Vejle we found ourselves entering the Danish countryside. We all chatted away and wondered what the next couple of days had in store for us. The workshop was held at a scout camp in the Vejle Ådal surrounded by beautiful woodlands, open fields and farmland. That evening we got to know each other, drank wine, had a wonderful meal and of course knit! Daniel and Trine are the most amazing cooks and boy did we eat well! On a beautifully decorated table with vases of plants, that we would later learn were perfect dye plants.
The workshop is taught over three rigorous days where you are taken through the fundamentals of dyeing wool with natural materials. You learn how to treat and prepare yarn, what ratios of dye materials to use and how combinations of these materials can give you a whole range of colours. Also how colours can be altered and darkened with potash and iron.
The workshop is hosted by Anne, Anne-Sophie, Trine and Daniel and there were 14 people taking part. We were from all sorts of backgrounds: dyers, yarn shop owners, town planners, designers… All keen to learn something new. After breakfast and plenty of coffee, we all gathered around a large table with circles of naturally dyed colour placed temptingly in the middle. The first day starts with learning about the processes involved and what we would be doing over the next couple of days.
We then head outside to the dying area to start the first task. We are using a fine wool, like a fine lace weight or embroidery thread to dye on. These skeins arrive from the mill with just one tie, so to prevent a tangly mess we tie up the skeins in four places and also one longer tie for dunking into the dye baths.
Now the skein is prepped for dyeing. Some get treated with an alum mordant which opens up the fibre and allows the dye to permeate, though some dye stuffs high in tannin do not need the alum process as the high tannin acts in the same way.
On our fist day we dyed with walnut, cochineal and madder and we split into four teams to divide up the labour. A group was in charge of mordanting and the other three groups were in charge of the three dye baths.
The dye baths are huge soupy drums full of dye stuff that the wet alumed skeins were dunked in to. These baths were heated up and the skeins were left to simmer for an hour. This is the walnut dye bath above that gives a mild fawny brown. We dyed four skeins in total for each dye bath. One was kept as the original colour, one went to be over dyed with something else, one went to be over dyed with indigo and the last was for a darkening process in either potash or iron.
We were all very excited about cochineal and madder. The cochineal dye bath on the left and the madder on the right.
Here we have a days worth of dyeing from walnut, cochineal and madder. Lighter colours were created by dying a second and third skein after the first dye bath to use as much colour from the bath as possible.
The afternoon saw half the group go on a foraging walk while the other half maintained the dye baths. We went looking for Oak, St Johns Wort and Mugwort. As you can see we found quite a bit!
Then we went back to the dye pots to make a fresh batch of dye with our foraged plants. The brewing of fresh materials smelt amazing, like herbal teas. We also got a lot of Oak as well, these were chopped down to help release the most colour. All ready to dye with the next day.
The day ended with another great meal and a well deserved glass of wine, or two! Plenty of knitting and good company.
Refreshed after breakfast we head back to the dye pots. Excited to start creating other shades, we learnt about ways of creating darker tones through the use of potash and iron.
You can see how the pinky shades have gone richer and more purply through this process. Iron has to be well washed after, unfortunately for the washers it was quite rainy at this point.
On the list to dye with today were the Oak, St Johns Wort and Mugwort that we harvested as well as some dried heather. Heather is an intriguing one, giving a surprising bright yellow. In the afternoon we had the chance to play with indigo!
Here we have a heather dyed skien coming out of the dye bath. Heather can be used any time of year from its stalk to its flowers. I just love the colour.
The afternoon gave us what we had all been waiting for, indigo! Indigo is a strange one and starts green, but with reaction to oxygen turns blue. Indigo sits on the surface of the fibre, not like the other dyes, so it can be layered up to create darker and darker blues.
Here’s a set of indigo dyed skeins. The fun was combining colours. Over dyeing reds and yellows to give purples and greens. A fun part we all enjoyed was getting out the extra water and aligning the yarn after being in the dye bath! Don’t stand in the way!
Our last day saw us visit G-uld HQ and their beautiful shop. Here we wound up all the little mini skeins from the larger ones so we could all take a little bit home. Between us we wound 1035 minis!
Now the fun begins and we get to put together our circle of colour. We dyed 69 different colours in total from only nine different dye baths.
And here you have it the circle of colour created over a few days by an amazing bunch of people and taught and nourished by the amazing team at G-uld. Friendships were made and a new appreciation for the skill and knowledge that goes into creating the beautiful range of colours in G-uld’s yarn.