Natural Dye and Embroidery Sampler with Thea Haines
For the past few years my fellow instructor at Needlework, Thea Haines, has taught some natural dye and embroidery workshops. Every year this specific workshop has run either while I was away or while I was working (gah!). But this year the stars aligned and I snagged a spot in this perfect-for-me class, since I have never had any training in embroidery OR natural dyes! Prepare for a picture overload, because this is maybe one of the most photogenic projects I have ever done and I really went to town documenting it.
The first evening we learned a bunch of embroidery stitches and Thea supplied us with all of the fabrics and yarns (plus extra to take home). I had really anticipated the Natural Dye section and wasn't too sure what I would feel about the embroidery part but it turns out I LOVE embroidery! We went home with tons of materials and instructions to embroider at least 2 more samples for the three different dyes we were trying. I really poured a ton of (super enjoyable) time into these and I really love how they came out.
The second night we learned all about natural dyes and how to measure and weigh our materials and take safety precautions and how long and how much heat and all that. The three dyes we chose as a group were Logwood (which makes a deep purple), Madder (which makes a coral red colour), and Dyers Chamomile (which makes a golden yellow). I really felt like watching Thea's whole process was invaluable.
This embroidery of Molly's name feels so special. I just drew big block letters on the fabric with a pencil and then started working big space-filling flowers all over, making sure I used the same yarns in multiple places all across the work, even though that meant moving the hoop a bunch of times. Then I started filling in around the flowers with some leaves and other stitches until I used up all the yarn and was forced to stop. Thea had given us a 4-ply silk yarn that I separated into individual plies to make it go further since it was one of the last yarns I added and I knew I was getting down to no materials! The silk feels really special and lovely and I feel like it's the sheen from it that makes this piece feel astonishingly classy. This piece took a full day (fitting it in while Molly napped or when she was eating).
Altogether, this is one of the best classes I have ever taken in terms of sheer amount learned in only two lessons. I feel so inspired! More embroideries! More dyeing! More!!!
I also want to really thank Thea for being so open and free with her information. I had a thousand questions and she happily answered all of them - she was also really encouraging and excited to see our work progress.