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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Seasons Greetings

While holidaying in Scotland for a few days in November, we woke one morning to this wonderful scene. The light on Loch Rannoch was just amazing and I shot quite a few images which I want to develop into window and wall panels in the New Year.

Monday, 24 November 2008

International Year of Natural Fibres!

Next year, 2009, is International Year of Natural Fibres (IYNF) and the aims of the Farming and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations is:

To raise awareness of natural fibres, to promote efficiency and sustainability of the natural fibres, and to foster an effective international partnership among the various natural fibres industries

This is something that is very close to my heart as I try very hard to only use British wool yarns and Irish linen yarns in my work. To me it's really important to promote British and European fibres, not least to support our local producers, but to reduce our carbon footprint, too!

They plan to have a website to promote the year of planned events at, but in the mean time all information can be found at IYNF

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Gift Idea No 11! or my brains getting sore!

Oh, dear, my plan to blog every day with a new gift idea is sadly falling by the wayside. It's not that I can't think of ideas for all your "fibrey friends", it's just that I can't think of any more really exciting ideas.

Well that's not quite true. I've come up with some cracking ideas, but they will take time to put together, and times what I don't have!

We'd love to provide some naturally dyed warps for those weavers who don't like making them themselves, either because they don't have the time or the inclination, but want something that little bit different. I'd love the hear from you, as to whether this is something you'd like to see in the UK. There are a number of companies in the US who sell pre-dyed and made up warps, but we haven't been able to find any here, so I'm commissioning Jane Deane to dyes some for me for the New Year, but that's a month or more away.

In the mean time, those of you who do like dyeing why not treat yourself to the Rivers Collection, which includes 10g Amazon (Annatto), 25g Ganges (Dhak), 25g Indus (Madder), 25g Nile (Natural Indigo), 25g Rhine-M (Red Lac) and 25g Rhine-S (Purple Lac) and all instructions.

This collection is now only £20.50 and represents good value for money for such a lovely collection of colours.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Gift Idea No 10!

Is your "Fibrey Friend" is a passionate knitter? Do they spin and have lots of scrumptious hand spun yarn? Are they enjoying dyeing beautiful yarns? Is weaving something they want to try, but don't have room for a loom? Want to introduce them so something different?

This is where the Knitters Loom comes into it's own. It's compact and easy to use and you can have a hand woven scarf in 2 hours! Maxine, who lives on a narrow boat, has on, and who knows more about living in a small space than she does?

For £125 you can be weaving beautiful items in next to no time!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Gift Idea No. 9!

This is a really simple idea, following on from the last post.

For spinners who've never tried natural dye extracts (or even dyeing!), why not buy them one of the substantive dyes that contain tannin. These are Amber-M (Oak Gall), Kango (Myrobalan), Pacific (Pomegranate) and Thar (Cutch). One 25g packet of any one of these dyes will dye 500g of fibres and shouldn't need any other mordant, such as alum and cream of tartar and so can be done in one step:
  • Weight your fibres in their dry state
  • Wet them out (if using tops curl them into a bundle and secure end round the bundle then immerse in warm water with a squirt of washing liquid
  • Weigh up to 5g of dye extract for each 100g of wool yarn.
  • Dissolve the dye in a small amount of water, heating if necessary to aid the dissolving or add a "grain" of washing soda.
  • Top up the water so that it will be sufficient to cover your yarn when it's in the pot.
  • Add your wetted out yarn to the pot.
  • Slowly bring to a simmer over about 45 minutes.
  • Simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Cool in the pot then rinse thoroughly.
For as little as £1.30 for the dye and your fibrey friends own fibre what more could they want!

Gift Idea No. 8

I know this isn't a dyeing gift idea, but it is a "Fibrey" idea!

Michael Williams, from Sheffield, makes the most wonderful drop spindles, see his website here

Although I haven't tried it, the Akha is supposed to be excellent for spinning cotton, "effortless" was the quote I was given and with his new Support Spindle Bowl this would be a great gift for a spinning expert.

There are lots of other, less expensive ideas on his website, including his drop spindles, diz, nostepinne, lazy kate, niddy noddy, etc.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Gift Idea No. 7!

Well I suppose I should be running short of ideas now, but looking at the lovely kits we've got on our Pure Tinctoria website, I'm quite excited about them!

For just £11.20 we have a Mini Starter Kit which contains 25g Indus (Madder), 25g Kango (Myrobalan), 25g Nile (Natural Indigo) and 25g Pacific(Pomegranate) and all instructions.

This is a really nice gift for someone starting out with natural dyeing.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Centre Pull Ball Scarves

If you can remember, I did some indigo dyeing in the summer (when was that!) and at last I've finally found time to photograph my indigo dyed "Centre-Pull Ball" scarves.

I wove them on a rigid heddle (Ashford 30cm Knitters Loom) with 2 "ends" of Blue Faced Leicester chunky wool that was indigo dyed as previously explained and 1 end of indigo dyed curled loop boucle.

The first scarf was woven with the same white BFL chunky yarn as the warp.

The second one was woven with the indigo dyed curled loop boucle.

I'm really pleased with them, I only wish you could feel how soft they are, oh and now I need to weave (or knit) the two "Shibori" hanks I dyed at the same time.

Gift Idea No. 6!

While we experience these dull grey days we start to think of Spring and Summer next year. I love holidays that allow me to indulge my passion for all things "Textile", so would love nothing more than to spend my time weaving, dyeing, spinning, etc!

Spring and Summer are a long way off, but you could treat someone close (or yourself!) to a week-end break. Skylark Holidays run week-end breaks and 5 day holidays in the heart of the UK, in an unspoilt corner of Derbyshire, at Windlehill Farm. The farm provides a special setting, with a duck pond greeting you as you approach the entrance and its characteristic group of buildings surrounding the farmyard and raised water feature. There has been a high quality restoration, providing meeting rooms, studios and four-star self-catering accommodation.

This friendly, approachable company can put together a gift voucher to suit your needs and budget, so give them a ring on 01283 701729 or email

Monday, 10 November 2008

Gift Idea No. 5!

Hello again.

I've had some lovely results with my indigo over the summer and you may have seen my centre pull ball and twisted hank experiments. I've woven the two, 100g centre pull balls into lovely large scarves with some indigo dyed boucle. They could be knitted rather than woven if you prefer, but they are really lovely and quite simple to dye using the Jenny Dean "Colour Run Remover" method!

With this in mind why not buy a pack of indigo and a hank of Blue Faced Leicester Chunky Texture Yarn and we'll add the instructions for dyeing with the centre pull balls or twisted hank and throw in a knitting pattern, crochet pattern and weaving instructions for a Knitters Loom (rigid heddle loom), too!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Gift Idea No. 4!

While I'm on the "Book Theme" how about a gift for a spinner, experienced or new!

Creative Spinning, by me and Jane Deane has proved very popular and has had some great reviews:
  • "Hi Alison and Jane. It's great, lovely photography and samples." Rosemarie
  • "The book arrived 3 minutes ago! I've just opened it and it's absolutely beautiful. Just skimming through the pages gave me that "excited" feeling, I can't wait to go through it in more detail. And it's signed by both of you!" Ann
Give a spinning friend or relative that "exited" feeling when they open this on Christmas Day!

It's on special offer at the moment, so at just £10 it's a bargain as well.

Gift Idea No. 3!

Woops, I missed a post yesterday, so am a day behind!

It's given me a little time to think about what would make a good present. I've always been very partial to books, so thought that Jenny Dean's newest book, Colours from Nature would make a lovely gift.

Colours from Nature describes in full detail how to prepare and use natural dyes on a variety of fibres to produce a wide range of colours, following safe and environmentally-friendly methods. It has a comprehensive recipe section giving instructions for over 100 colours, using both traditional dyes such as cochineal, indigo, madder and weld, and dyes from common plants such as blackberry, rhubarb, oak and walnut, as well as instructions for some natural dye extract.

Jenny has been working with natural dyes for over 30 years and lectures and runs courses and workshops on natural dyeing and has written widely on the subject.

At £13.50 this is a gem of a book and well worth a place on a "Fibre Addicts" book shelf!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Gift Idea No. 2!

Hi all

Why not introduce your "Fibery" friends to natural dyeing with the Spring Four Kit.

25g each of Ambrosia, Amber-L, Desert-V and Thar-G. From bottom to top in the image:
  • Ambrosia - marigold - lemon yellow.
  • Amber-L - lohdra bark - orange to peach.
  • Desert-V - chaste tree - tans.
  • Thar-V - cutch waste - olive greens and greys.
All for £7.50!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Christmas Looming!

I don't want to alarm anybody, but I was informed by the radio this morning that there are only 7 weeks to Christmas!

So, with this in mind, you might like to treat your "Fibrery" friends and relations to some lovely dyes. So here at Pure Tinctoria we've been thinking about what we'd like to receive as gifts and have come up with some ideas for you.

For the next couple of weeks we are going to post 1 gift idea each day, a bit like an advent calendar, but early enough for you to ponder gifts!

Day 1
For your friends who embroider, how about one of the lovely "Opportunity Packs" we had specially dyed by Jane Deane.

The image on the above shows one of these beautifully presented and totally unique packs.

Each Luxury Opportunity Pack has been hand dyed using Pure Tinctoria natural dye extracts and contains:

Fabric - 1 @ 25x25cms of silk noil, silk nuslin, cotton velvet or similar; a minimum of 30m of assorted yarns, silk fibres or wenslydale fleece and one of the following:- silk carrier rod, silk cocoons (3), buttons or similar.

The packs are just £12 each.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Hot News!

Hi all

I wanted to let you know some exciting news. Five of Pure Tinctoria's natural dye extracts gave been given their Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which is really wonderful and the remaining dyes are due to get their GOTS in the next few months, so keep an eye out for that post, too.

The five dyes are Amazon (Annatto), Amber-M (Oak Gall), Indus (Madder), Kango (Myrobalan) and Thar (Cutch).

We have also been able to reduce the price of Amazon and Indus recently so please got to the Pure Tinctoria website for details.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Dyeing Bowmont Fleece

I've just had a set of images of the four new dyes, Marigold, Lodhra bark, Chaste Tree and Cutch waste, dyed onto Bowmont fleece.
Lesley Prior of Devon Fine Fibres has used them very successfully on her own Bowmont fleece.

The colours are, from left to right, Lodhra bark (Amber-L), Chaste Tree (Desert-V), Marigold (Ambroisa) and Cutch waste (Thar-G).

When she emailed me with the image she had this to say:

"I used 5% for the Desert but only 4% for the Amber. I think Bowmont
takes it up very well so the proportions for at least some of the dyes
could be reduced slightly depending on the effect you want of course.
Looking forward to using the other two!!!"

She also uses half the suggested quantities of dye on her kid and YG mohair and half to two thirds on her cashmere because it's ecru not white. She feels that two thirds is about right for the Bowmont.

You can read all about her dye session with Pure Tinctoria on her blog.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Brand New Product Launch!

We are very excited to launch our latest product.

Beautifully packs of luxury fabric, yarns and fibres all hand dyed by Jane Deane. These packs are ideal for creative embroiderers who are looking for that some thing that's different. Visit our website to see the full range.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

More Indigo!

Here are the images of the centre-pull ball dyeing I did in the same indigo vat.

I already had some centre-pull balls wound tightly and only had to "wet them out". I then put a rod (long paint brush) through the centre and allowed the ball to just sit in the vat.

After about 5 minutes I flipped the ball over and let the other side sit in the vat, as you can see in the image on the left.

Here you can see the distinct areas of colour.

Below is onen of the hanks hanging on the line after washing and rinsing.

I did manage to warp two knitters loom with these yarns before I went to Woolfest, but didn't manage to do much weaving while I was there. I did finish the weaving at home on Sunday, by way of a rest! I will post images of those when I manage to find time to photograph them.


Just before I want to Woolfest I tutored a dye workshop. During the course of the week-end we did some indigo dyeing. I love wool, so naturally I had lots of hanks of yarn, including some lovely Blue-faced leicester gimp.

I had some in hanks and some in centre-pull ball, so in a quiet moment I managed to "dunk" them in the indigo vat.

The first ones to go in where the hanks, which I tightly hanked, giving them a really good twist, until I couldn't twist any more. I then gave them a good wetting out, followed by a good squeeze and placed them one at a time in my vat. I pushed them carefully under the surface then allowed the hank to bob back to the surface.

The image on the left shows, clearly, the coppery coloured film of a vat that is in good order.

Carefully removing the hank, catching any drips in a jug, I allowed the hank to oxydise briefly, before unwinding and hanging on the line to fully oxydise. The image on the right shows the hank as I unwound it before hanging on the line.

Here is the hank hanging on the line to dry after washing and rinsing, with a final rinse with a small amount of vinegar in the water.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Student Successes!

Hi all

I wanted to pass on some great news!

Sarah Egholm from Chelsea College, who has been using Pure Tinctoria dyes in her final project, has been awarded a first class honours degree. Very well done Sarah.

Here is an image of her work, entitled "Five Ecological Windsocks" and an extract from her email:
".......Just wanted to let you know I have just graduated from Chelsea College
of Art Textile Design BA with a First Class Honours degree - and my
final project consisted of fabrics dyed with Pure-Tinctoria, to the
'no-mordant' methods you explained !

I did extensive experimentation with this method and developed two
colours I liked. I intend to do a Masters Degree later in the year and
would like to develop more shades using this method, possibly on a
large scale.

I used two colours in the end - A peach shade that was Annatto,
pre-dyed with Kango. This was then bleached out with large amounts of
lemon juice. For the final project I used something in the region of
16 litres ! The chocolate brown was Golden Dock pre-dyed with

Many Thanks,

Sarah Egholm"

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Students using Pure Tinctoria

Isn't it sad when tutors aren't very far sighted!

I've just had a message from Angelita, who did the lovely fabrics for her final cat walk show at the London College of Fashion, featured in an earlier post.

She has be told by her tutors that she needs to use a greater colour range than she has, so had to re- dye all her fabrics using synthetic dyes. It's such a pity that this student's work has not been recognised as being forward thinking. Especially in the light of the fact that at the last Trend Forecast that I went to said one of the up and coming trends was for soft, chalky shades, just like Angelina's!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A fabulous scarf

Hi all

Jane Deane is an adult tutor and one of the subjects she teaches is natural dyeing. She has been using the dyes at her evening class in Devon.

This fabulous silk scarf was dyed by one of Jane's student (adult learners!), Sue Golding-Cooke and was photographed for us by Welmoed Perrin.

The reddy/purple is a mix of madder and purple lac and the green is cutch waste.

I'm sure you'll agree that it is truly gorgeous!

Thursday, 1 May 2008


Pure Tinctoria has four new dyes for the Spring! Cutch Waste, Chaste Tree, Lodhra Bark and Marigold. We have put them in a pack for the spring with a £1 discount until the end of June.

This picture doesn't do the colours justice! The cutch waste is a lovely colour, giving a fabulous olive green or grey, depending on your water's ph, and the marigold is a lovely lemon yellow.

We will be at Woolfest again this year so come and look us up and see the discounts that we will have for you, including the above "Spring Four" pack.

We look forward to meeting you there.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Students using Pure Tinctoria Dyes

I've just had an email from Angelita Codoni, a student at London College of Fashion, who has just had her Critique for her final project. She has used Pure Tinctoria dyes and has sent this image

The fabrics look very beautiful and although she, and her fellow students, were very limited with the stuff they could show, she thinks she made the most of showing the beautiful results of the dyes. They are so vibrant in their own way.

The lustre fabric (her favourite, so beautiful) is hemp/silk and the mat fabric is bamboo jersey.

I would love to see the garments when they are finished and on the cat walk!

Friday, 7 March 2008

A day of dyeing

I've just had a really good day dyeing Annie Sherburnes lovely recycled singles yarn. I am planning to weave a wall panel for an exhibition and used Rhine-M (Red Lac) and Kango (Myrobalan).

Rhine-M (red lac) Kango (myrobalan)

The design I will use is from my Anthurium Collection which can be seen at
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