Dyeing, Felicia's Notebook

Earthues Dealers Conference 2009

2009-09-04_handpainted
Silk and alpaca yarns handpainted with natural dyes and indigo dips

Back in July, I had the privilege of attending Earthues’ Dealers Conference, a week-long full day and night workshop on handpainting with natural dyes and indigo. I was a bit hesitant at first since it was scheduled to begin on the night of my birthday and it was a bit sad to think I’d be spending my birthday alone in some random hostel with 15 other strangers… but it ended up being such a wonderful, inspiring experience. I don’t know how it could have been better. We spent from 10 am to 5 pm handpainting and dyeing various yarns with Michele’s natural dye colourways, left the Ballard studio for some dinner with the group, then returned each evening for another one or two hour lecture. One evening, Michele and Kathy demonstrated, side-by-side, the difference between their bio/organic indigo and the indigofera guatamalensis. These women know their indigo.

2009-09-04_kathy
Kathy Hattori attending to the indigo vat
2009-09-04_kathymichele
Side by side, Kathy and Michelle with their indigo stock solutions.
2009-09-04_sidebyside
Kathy and Michele dipping in their respective indigo vats. The different indigos oxidize at different rates and are also slightly different colours — one having more cool undertones and the other having more warm undertones.

Another evening, we discussed eco-friendly dyes and minimizing resources including water and energy. Really simple things like covering your dye pots allows the water to heat up 22% faster. And another evening, Michele presented her projects with communities in Senegal and setting them up for natural dyeing and production.

2009-04-04_samples1
Natural dye samples

Always, I think my greatest inspiration comes from seeing the infinite variety of exquisitely sophisticated colours that are possible from just a few natural dyes. Every time I see the yarn samples laid out in front of me, something in me is challenged to increase my skill and knowledge in dyeing and natural dyeing. It’s both comforting and exciting to think that I have all my future years to explore new aspects of dyeing.

2009-09-04_group
Our group photo taken by Nancy Zeller of Long Ridge Farm.

I spent the week among fifteen amazingly wise and talented women and it was undeniably inspiring. I met a woman who raises CVM sheep in New Hampshire, another woman who makes her own goat cheese in Idaho, another woman who designs and makes handmade naturally dyed rugs in Nepal AND teaches full-time at the university textile program, women who have been natural dyeing for thirty years now… and they are all incredibly diverse examples of living and working out their lives on their own terms. It’s the kind of message I needed to receive on my birthday, I think. That however unconventional our careers and paths may seem, a life can be built on a passion for fibre. That however difficult or challenging it may seem, others have gone before you and it has been done. Nothing is impossible.

sign up for our newsletter

Sign up to stay in the loop with all the updates, exclusive patterns,
and promotions for SweetGeorgia.

Powered by ConvertKit
author-avatar

About Felicia Lo

founder + creative director of SweetGeorgia // designer + dreamer // wife + mama // dyer, knitter, spinner, weaver, youtuber + author // been writing this blog about colour and craft since 2004 // see what I am making @lomeetsloom and @sweetgeorgia.

Related Posts

8 thoughts on “Earthues Dealers Conference 2009

  1. Avatar Jenn says:

    You got to meet Layne (well and K&M too, man that backyard behind their building where they are dyeing looks familiar from my colormatching internship! ) Layne was my teacher for a weaving class and again for a rug design class.

    I am so sad I didn’t get to go. I should have canceled my vacation. Next year!

  2. yes,we had quite a week. i had so much fun meeting everyone and learning about Earthues. I am still trying to find time to play with these dyes. Cochineal is all i have played with since and just bought a nice pot for indigo dyeing. your pics are great. thanks for including me!

  3. yes,we had quite a week. i had so much fun meeting everyone and learning about Earthues. I am still trying to find time to play with these dyes. Cochineal is all i have played with since and just bought a nice pot for indigo dyeing. your pics are great. thanks for including me!

  4. Avatar emmalish says:

    That first photo is beautiful. I love that combination of colours. I’ve always been partial to earth tones.

  5. Avatar emmalish says:

    That first photo is beautiful. I love that combination of colours. I’ve always been partial to earth tones.

  6. Avatar mel says:

    I think this is a wonderful post. I enjoyed reading about your experience at this conference, thank you for sharing it. It’s inspiring to read about women (yourself included) crafting a life around the fiber arts, and all the different shapes that might take. I’m a bit shy of saying hello sometimes, but I was intrigued by your mention of Michele’s work in Senegal, I would love to read more about her work. This made me think of Hand/Eye magazine (a recent find for me, I’m still working through the first issue, amazing!), which made me click over there again… to find that she has a couple articles! Then visited Earthues site to read more about that venture. So, thanks also for starting a whole big set of internet link travel and reading. I’m brainstorming and reading and thinking about what comes next and how I join helping/creativity/outdoors/community/travel/living lightly to help define my own path, and posts and finds like this give me so much hope that it is possible.

  7. Avatar mel says:

    I think this is a wonderful post. I enjoyed reading about your experience at this conference, thank you for sharing it. It’s inspiring to read about women (yourself included) crafting a life around the fiber arts, and all the different shapes that might take. I’m a bit shy of saying hello sometimes, but I was intrigued by your mention of Michele’s work in Senegal, I would love to read more about her work. This made me think of Hand/Eye magazine (a recent find for me, I’m still working through the first issue, amazing!), which made me click over there again… to find that she has a couple articles! Then visited Earthues site to read more about that venture. So, thanks also for starting a whole big set of internet link travel and reading. I’m brainstorming and reading and thinking about what comes next and how I join helping/creativity/outdoors/community/travel/living lightly to help define my own path, and posts and finds like this give me so much hope that it is possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *