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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Interesting article about Indigo

Take a look at this article on the online magazine, Hand and Eye.  Learn about the symbolism of indigo in the African state of Benin.

Benin Blues - Article

Winner of the Pure Tinctoria Facebook Fan Page Draw!

Hi all,

I drew the winning name out of the hat yesterday and you can see it below:
The lucky winner will receive a voucher code to win 200g of hand dyed sock or aran yarn of their choice.  We will be doing this again when we reach 100 Fans who "like" our page.  So to be in with a chance click on the Fan Page button on the right!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Colour Inspirations from Landscapes - 2

Take a look at my images of Scotland, posted on my Facebook profile:

Pick your favourite by commenting on it and I'll produce a colour palette from the most popular image!  We can then have a discussion on which dyes we'd use to produce the colours!

I'll start you off with this image from the album:
I love the smokey colours and the deep indigo blues!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Colour Palette of the Month - December!

I love colour and find it really hard to work with neutrals and monochromatic palettes.  It's strange then, that in this monochromatic snowy and frosty landscape I'm beginning to adjust!

Monday morning, this week, was really frosty in the Trent Valley and I couldn't help but take this photograph at 8.30 while out for our morning walk.

When I downloaded the image from my Blackberry I was really taken with the lovely rich browns, creams and apricots,  moving me to use it as my palette for December and as my Seasonal Greetings card.  It puts a new twist on winter colours!  It's certainly not winter white, is it?

Dyeing the lovely rich colours would be a challenge and I think I'd use cutch (Thar) or sappenwood (Garden) with iron water for the browns and cutch for the apricot shade, with oak gall for the cream.  What would you use?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Pure Tinctoria Facebook Fan Page

Please "like" our Facebook Fan Page by clicking on the link on the Facebook Badge on the right of this blog.

If you click on if in November you'll be entered into a draw to win 200g of our sock yarn or aran yarn in the colour or colours of your choice.

Our sock yarn is 70% Blue Faced Leicester wool and 30% nylon to give it strength and is dyed with our lovely natural dye extracts.

Good luck.  Oh and tell your friends so that they get the chance to win too!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Colour Palette of the Month - November!

Colour Inspirations from Urban Landscapes
At the beginning of October I had a lovely week-end in London.  On the Saturday I wanted to go to the Tate Modern to see the Gaugan Exhibition and decided to walk along part of the Embankment to the Millenium Bridge.
Along the way I came across quite a few juxtapositions of old buildings and new buildings as you can see on the right.  This particular one really caught my eye with the "all glass" building that takes on an indigo colour in the background and the beautiful old building, with it's sand coloured brick and detailing stone work.
How lovely this colour palette would be in natural dyes and weave!  From the top I'd use indigo with an iron modification; indigo on it's own, but dipped several times to build up the deep blue; a very light, quick dip in indigo with a very quick and light modification with iron to get the blue grey; Oak Gall modified with citric acid; cutch.
Mm..... This has really got me thinking!  What about you, what would you use?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Colour Palette of the Month - October

Last month I took my daughter to University in Aberdeen, while there we visited the Winter Gardens, a series of Victorian glass houses in Duthie Park south of the city.
I love anthuriums, they are a recurring theme in my work.  They are such strong flowers, strong in form, shape and colour and are the inspiration for this months colour palette. I worked on this palette when we got back from Aberdeen and just before we went to exhibit at 100% Design.  By coincidence one of the strong colours at the show was magenta!
I hope you enjoy this palette with or without the green I’ve added as a contrast.  Green's not an easy colour to get accurately in natural dyes, but it's worth a try to get one of these greens, so try indigo with dhak.  For the magenta try a little purple lac for the pale version at the bottom and with a little copper water for the second from the bottom.  For the dark colour how about trying a short indigo dip with red lac at 4%.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Colours of Kinder Scout!

Last Sunday, as our tribute to National Parks week, we walked from Barber Booth and up onto Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District National Park, in Derbyshire.

It was a dry day, mostly, but up on Kinder we felt very close to the lowering clouds.  I'd never been up on top and was very saddened by the terrible erosion, but amazed by the rock formations and lovely muted colours.

Here is one of the wonderful rock formations that inspired me to produce this colour palette.  I just need to work out which extracts to use and which modifiers!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Centre Pull Ball Dyeing in Two Colours

This is a short presentation showing how to dye centre-pull balls in two colours using natural dye extracts.  I hope it will give you some new ideas to increase your creativity.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

More Bamboo Bad News!

Following the previous post about bamboo, I've been alerted to another website that has information on the processing of bamboo into fibre and ultimately into fabric:

Don't be confused by the advert for Honda at the top of the article!  It's well worth a read and gives an really good insight into the "horrors" of bamboo that I had hope wouldn't come true, but sadly has.

Friday, 23 July 2010

How to Dye Wood

I'm often asked if Pure Tinctoria natural dye extracts can be used to dye wood and my answer is yes they can, but I'm not sure how.

Now I know!  My craft & design student has done some research for me, as he wants to use the dyes to stain wood he is using to produce furniture and has given me the link to a useful website.  The main gist of the information is to dye wood using plants, but could easily be used  with extracts.

Darren has gone home with some of the extracts, red lace, cutch waste and dhak (tesu flower) and says he will do some experiments for me.  He really is a star!  I will post his results on this blog.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Colour Inspirations from Landscapes

A two day break in Anglesey has given me three beautiful colour palettes, one very fresh, one very warm and one a combination of warm and cool.

The first was inspired by the heathland above South Stacks Lighthouse on Holy Island. These fresh colours reflect the low growing heather and gorse.
The yellow could be dyed by using dhak or Himalayan rhubarb root.  The greens could be obtained by over dyeing the same colours with indigo and the pinks could be dyed by a weak solution of red lac and oak gall.

The next palette shows the fabulous earthy colours found on Parys Mountain, near Amlwch, on the north side of the island.
The rich, warm colours lend themselves to natural dyes beautifully.  Oak gall, golden dock, and a weak solution of purple lac lightly over dyed with indigo and oak gall also lightly over dyed with indigo would all be worth trying to obtain the colours.

Finally, these blues and soft beiges were inspired by the beach at Aberffraw on the south of Anglesey.  The blues can be found in indigo and the sand colours could be found in oak gall or sanderswood natural dye extracts.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ayurvedic Clothing!

Here's a reason to dye your fabric, yarn or fibres to be made into clothing with natural dye's, extracts or otherwise!
Read all about a clothing label that is doing just that.  Anjelika Krishna of A.D.O. is reviving the ancient tradition of Ayurvastra, literally "life dress" or infusing clothing with medicinal herbs which also dye the fabrics.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Woolfest 2010

Back from Woolfest where we met a lot of lovely new people and a lot of old friends.

Lorraine and I launched a new range of dyed wool yarns; Bluefaced Leicester Aran and Bluefaced Leicester and nylon sock yarn, both in a lovely range of colours.

The hand painted cutch waste and red lac and the hand painted rhubarb root and purple lac where hot favourites.  So watch out for these on the Pure Tinctoria website in the next week.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Lodhra Bark/Oak Gall

Despite stringent controls I've found that I've been sent oak gall instead of lodhra bark by the manufacturer. This mistake will have occured because they insist that I use Trade Names rather than the plant name!

If you've found that your lodhra bark gives a pale cream colour instead of the lovely orange, please let me know and I'll replace it free of charge and post free.

If you're not sure which is which a rather crude description of lodhra bark is that the extract looks like brown sweepings from the floor while oak gall looks like a yellow brown powder.

I'm so sorry this has happened and will ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Best wishes


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Knockando Woolmill - Speyside, Scotland

This fabulous mill was on a BBC programme a couple of years ago, I think. Does anyone remember the programme and what happened to this gem?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

mudbatik-natural dye process 10 min.wmv

Here is an interesting video showing how to use mud as a resist when natural dyeing.

In Search of Lost Colour: UNESCO short

This is just a short video produced by UNESCO, but interesting never the less.  It shows a range of dyes from across the globe.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Workshop at the Bowland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers

On May Day I was at the Bowland Guild in Lancashire to tutor a workshop using Pure Tinctoria natural dye extracts.  It was a lovely day weather wise and proved to be a lovely day teaching wise, too!

I was amazed at the number of people attending, I usually limit the numbers to 10, but they were prepared to bring more electric hot plates and additional pots, so we had at least 16!  And with the remainder of the guild spinning at the far end of the room, away from our hot plates, the room was packed.  Obviously Health and Safety came into very strict play, to prevent any accidents and everyone was really patient waiting their turn to weight dyes and yarns/fibres.

Here are a selection of pictures that the guild took at one of their meeting the following month which shows what a fabulous range of yarns were produced that day.
Yarns ranged from handspun to commercial, fine to chunky, plain to boucle!

We did centre pull ball dyeing using two colours, painted yarns and fibres and indigo!
There were fibres including tops and home produced alpaca and mohair.
And every colour of the rainbow was produce.

All in a day!


Friday, 28 May 2010

Another New Retailer!

Hurrah, we've got another new retailer, this time in the US.

So if you live in the United States and are looking for a fabulous range of natural dye extracts, please take a look at Talia's beautiful website: International Fleeces

If you don't like shopping via the internet, here's the International Fleeces contact details:
International Fleeces
2308 Sheridan Street
WY 820070

(307) 742-3140

Talia has worked really hard over the last few weeks getting all the information correct and deserves your patronage so join me in wishing her well with this new venture.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

Solar Dyeing


this is nothing new, but for me it is.  It's something I've always wanted to do, but never found the time or had the right weather to do it!

Recently I joined the Sustainable Natural Dye Practice Yahoo Group and this month we have been studying annatto.  As usual, I've been rather busy and not had time to do any dyeing to speak of, just dye packing!  But today, Saturday, one of my weave students didn't turn up, so rather than waste the day I got out my stainless steel pot with glass lid, annatto and some fibres, fabrics and yarn and made a start.  Better late than never, you all might say.

I already had some Corridale fibre and a silk scarf that had been pre-mordanted in alum and cream of tartar, a small amount of merino, un-mordanted, and with a small hank of un-mordanted cotton yarn that totalled 100g.  I put 5g of annatto into a small amount of warm water to dissolve and put this in my pot, adding sufficient warm water to cover my fibres, fabric and yarn that had been soaking in warm soapy water.

I added the wetted goods, put on the glass lid and it's now in the garden in full sun!   It'll have to be moved around to keep in the sun, but that's not a hardship.  I'll periodically check the temperature to see how it's cooking, just out of curiosity more than anything.  When it's dull I'll put it on the south facing window sill in the house and hopefully keep it cooking for at least 3 days!  Not really sure how long to cook it for, all the references on the internet give different times, ranging from 1 day (8 hours) to 3 weeks!

I've just checked the temperature with my dye thermometer and it's not quite up to 50oC, so it looks like it'll be a few days, at least before it's ready to be rinsed.  It's the ideal temperature for indigo, but  not for my annatto.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


I've just finished quite a busy few weeks looking at sustainability.

It began with the Rebecca Early lecture and workshop at Nottingham Trent University.  Becky has been doing a lot of research into sustainability and with a group of lecturers at the Chelsea College of Art and Design set up TEDResearch.  Please take a look at Rebecca's website and at the TED website which has some interesting and very useful resources and while you're there don't forget to sign up for their newsletter!

Last week saw me at NTU again, for the Private view of Akihiko Izukura's exhibtion, Life in Colours.  Running alongside the exhibition has been a set of four workshops which explore Mr Izukura's philosophy of natural textiles, Spinning, Reeling, Dyeing and Weaving and Braiding.

The exhibition is a revelation and a profusion of colour!  Who said natural dyeing was boring!   If you've in the Nottingham area is really is worth tracking down the exhibition at NTU's Bonington Gallery, your won't be disappointed unless you hate colour!  If weaving is your thing, you won't help being amazed at the skill of his weaving of traditional sashes, Obi, or his skill in braiding which is manipulated to fit the body.

The morning following the Private View I attended a Spinning workshop with Mr Izukura.  It wasn't what I'd call spinning, but was very interesting, never the less.  We had six silk worm cocoons that had been de-gummed and which contained two silk worms.  These "double" cocoons are not good for reeling as the two silk worms in the one cocoon cause the silk filament to tangle.  We pulled the softened cocoons into rectangles then moulded them over balloons and plastic to form 3D shapes, which were then painted with rice paste to stiffen then when the paste dried.

The afternoon was followed with the Natural Dye workshop, which for me was so wonderfully refreshing and completely different to any natural dyeing that I do.  I chose to dye a silk scarf which had been woven in Mr Izukura's factory in Kyoto, Japan.  The warp was spun silk and the weft was noil silk and took the dyes beautifully.

I wetted my scarf, pleated it diagonally, forming a small triangle which I then pleated across the triangle and tied with two elastic bands.  I dipped one end in logwood, the other in cochineal, the top of the centre in walnut and the bottom centre in clove.

To fix the dyes I dipped the whole scarf in Camillia Ash water, then dipped the ends in fermented iron water.  This picture really doesn't do the colours justice.  What was amazing in this workshop was that we didn't use any heat and the dipped very quickly!

I was back again this week for a Reeling Workshop, where we reeled six cocoons into 3D shapes over balloons and plastic cylinders.  Very similar to the Spinning workshop, but using the filament silk rather than the noil.   We spent the afternoon weaving and braiding naturally dyed paper yarn into an interesting "neck piece".

My whole practice has been questioned by these events, how can I make my practice more sustainable and how do I take on board Mr Izukura's philosophy, putting nature before ego and practice!

So much food for thought.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Naturally Dyed Rug by Janet Walker

One of Jane Deane's spinning and weaving students has handspun and dyed her yarn for a beautiful rug.

Janet used indigo, purple lac, red lac, madder and a yellow (that Jane couldn't remember!) all from the Pure Tinctoria range.

Take a look at the image on the right to see her fabulous result.

Monday, 12 April 2010

New Website

Hi all

You will know from a previous post that we have had to find a new web host and new eCommerce shop and that we've had real problems with the company we thought would provide the service.

Well, we are really pleased to announce that we have a beautiful new website: which has been provided by a really helpful company, iWebshop.  We had a slight hiccup over the week end, as the Paypal Express Checkout wouldn't work properly, but Phillip has worked on this and we are delighted to announce that Pure Tinctoria is back!

Here is an image of our new front page and you will find new pages, including the ability to download the instructions before you buy the dyes and if you lose your free copies that come with the dyes!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Two New Retailers in Europe!

We are delighted to have Dineke De With and Alet Teinpont as retailers of Pure Tinctoria natural dye extracts, they can be found at:

De Spinners
Binckhorstlaan 36
2516 BE Den Haag

Telephone: 070 - 3973643
Mobile: 06 28 44 37 79

Find Dineke's online shop here:

Textielwerk Wol en Zo
Nieuwe Noorddijkseweg2
4305 RA Ouverkerk

Telephone: 0111 416614
Mobile: 06 51 37 62 66

Alet's online shop can be found at:

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Pure Tinctoria Website

Hi All

I just wanted to update you about the Pure Tinctoria website, which is undergoing changes.  The company, Startershop, I have my e-commerce website with has decided they don't want to manage e-commerce sites anymore, so I am having to look for a new website and host.

I thought I'd found one as good as Startershop, but sadly  they have let me down, in fact, on more than one occasion.  What should have taken less than a week is still ongoing and therefore I am still with the old site, but having taken our an advert in a couple of magazines, to promote my new domain name, some new or potential customers will find that they can't access the new site, which appears as under construction and it feeds them to the wrong old site!

Please bear with me, I'm finding it very, very stressful, but will full fill all orders as speedily as usual.  If you hear of anyone who has tried to access either site and not succeeded, please direct them to my email address or telephone number and I will deal with their order that way in my usual efficient manner!

I hope to get a new site up and running before Wonderwool Wales, but am holding my breathe!

Best wishes


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

A Felt Maker and Spinner uses Pure Tinctoria

Debbie Allen from the West Midlands has been experimenting with our natural dye extracts and has produced some lovely trial yarns.  Take a look at her blog to see what she's been up to!
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