Before I fell under the weather, I attended the K2Tog workshops at the Fuller Craft Museum. The day was sort of a mixed bag--I got the sense that the museum wants to reach out to the fiber community but they haven't targeted their audience yet. The day felt sort of unfocussed, with classes ranging from absolute beginner to experienced. It would have been more successful if they'd narrowed that range a bit.
Two of the sessions I took were real standouts, though: lunch & dyeing. The luncheon speaker was Peter Hagerty of Peace Fleece. He's a fascinating man whose path from Vietnam vet to international yarn entrepreneur was inspirational. He mentioned that on trips to Russia, even though he spoke no Russian & they spoke no English, when he & his wife took out their knitting, they immediately made friends. He told too many stories to recap the talk here, but he was truly mesmerizing. If you get the chance to hear him speak, do go. And buy their yarn, it's for a good cause.
My last workshop for the day was Natural Dyeing. We dyed samples in onion skins, cochineal & indigo. Rhonda, the instructor, had color-dedicated dyepots that she heated on propane-powered hotplates (which she said you could often find at the Ocean State Job Lot for $25--good to know!). She uses non-toxic mordants like cream of tartar. We each dyed a set of samples. Here's mine (top to bottom): indigo, indigo/cochineal, cochineal, indigo/onion skins, cochineal/onion skins, onion skins. The blended colors were dipped first in one, rinsed, then dipped in the other.
I was really pleased with the yellow of the onion skins. It's such a lovely "naples yellow" (any watercolorists out there?) shade, and so easy and inexpensive to achieve.
As we were wrapping up, one of Rhonda's assistants decided to try her hair in the indigo pot.
It took so well, she reports, that when she recently dyed her hair red, that one blue lock rejected the red dye.
All in all, the dyeing workshop showed me that natural dyeing is less fuss and bother than I had thought, and might be something I could manage in the basement with a hotplate (which is exactly how Rhonda recommends you approach it). So maybe someday I'll get off my butt and actually dye something!
ETA: Well, actually, indigo is a fuss and bother, which is why I included the link. Rhonda has a dedicated indigo pot that she keeps going all the time, which doesn't make sense if you're an occasional dyer. But the other colors seem manageable.