Monday, May 6, 2013

The joy of making friends while dyeing

I hardly know where to begin.  This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday Tanglewood Farm was the gathering place for a natural dye workshop and it was such a great experience.  Dagmar Klos, who wrote the Dyer's Companion came here from Chicago to teach twelve of us the joys of dyeing wool with natural dyes.  We learned to do the math (it wasn't too scary!), prepare our fiber and the dye matter and so much, much more.  I'll confess that beforehand I was a little worried about how the studio would accommodate that many of us for three full days and if people would enjoy themselves while they were here.  I needn't have worried.  It turned out to be the most wonderful group of women and by the time it was over, I felt I had gained a new group of kindred spirit friends.  The camaraderie and teamwork displayed during the three days of the workshop were examples of every good thing I know about a group of women coming together for a common interest.  One of the best things I noticed was that though we ranged in age from 30's to 60's and many different walks of life,  every single person spent time in one-on-one conversation and sharing with everyone else.  Thank so much to all of you who braved the country roads and lack of road signs (!) to find your way here.

I can't say enough good things about Dagmar.  If you ever have the opportunity* to take a workshop from her, jump on it!  She's such a good teacher.  She's warm and encouraging and keeps you focused and on task with just the right amount of direction.  This was a very hands-on workshop.  We learned by Dagmar patiently taking us through each step of the process.   Added to that, she was the very best kind of house guest (and was even willing to eat leftovers on her last night with us!).  (*You should make a note right now because if all goes as planned, she'll be coming back to teach at the 2014 Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!)

 I'm pretty sure Dagmar has never had to conduct a class in the kind of working conditions I presented her with.  We spent time around the table in the studio to begin each day, but after that we were mostly in the barn aisle with our dye pots.  Between Luna being part of the class on one day and the alpaca boys continually peering at us over the fence, to the birds flying in and out of the barn over our heads all day,  our natural dyeing class was surrounded by nature.  She was a great sport about it and never complained.

I'm going to take this opportunity to thank great friends for helping me feed everyone while they were here.  David saw to it that we had fabulous food from Shaker Village (everyone especially loved the tomato celery soup), Mary Cherrey baked her famous banana bread and cookies to help fuel us up every morning and Teresa presented us with an elegant lunch on Saturday that had everyone thinking they'd been invited to a fancy Derby party!  I can't tell you how many times people told me how lucky I was to have such good friends who are fabulous cooks!  (Believe me, I know how lucky I am!)

K. Crane was my partner in crime for this workshop.  It all happened because we had a conversation about how fun it would be to have a natural dye workshop here at the farm.  K. volunteered that she knew Dagmar and would be happy to talk to her about coming to Kentucky sometime in the spring.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  K. was instrumental in helping me get it all set up and she also spent a considerable amount of time skeining up half of the 900 mini-skeins we needed to have prepared ahead of time.  (I'll confess that I used making mini-skeins as my excuse for watching many years worth of "Monarch of the Glen" within a 3 day period!) Thanks so much K. for all your hard work.

(Chris and Robyn cooking their stinky bugs - cochineal)
(our indigo solution)

(So many glorious colors - all from natural dyes!)
I have lots of pictures to share from the workshop and will be posting those later this week.  My friend Sara came out on Friday and took some really good pictures that I want to share.  (I'm not so great at taking pictures when things are happening around me - these were all snapped with my iPhone.) 


  1. Since it was a class about dyeing with natural materials, I would imagine Dagmar was right in her element, working semi-outside in the barn. You make it all sound like a fancy 'destination' vacation! How did you find your participants? By networking previous classes you have taken?

  2. Replies
    1. I'm so sorry it didn't work out for you to be here, Kim. Maybe next time!

  3. There was nothing fancy about being here on the farm for 3 days! Most people heard about the workshop from my blog post and then word of mouth. It filled in less than two days, so I'll admit I didn't really have to do any marketing, which is always a good thing! (and the waiting list was long enough to fill another workshop)

  4. Can't wait to see and read more, even though it all makes me so jealous!

  5. Oh my goodness Dianne - the colors are fabulous! Who would think that you would be able to get such intense colors with natural dyes? I learn something new from you every day!! I am so glad that it went well.....

  6. I'm sure you all had a wonderful time!! The colors are great and you had the best teacher!

  7. Those colors are amazing! And your pictures are great!

  8. I still can't believe I had to miss this, looks like SO much fun! And the results.... WOW! I hope I'm on the top of the list for next time :)

  9. So envious, but thoroughly enjoyed your account and the photos (which are great as usual - you are much better at photos than you give yourself credit for!). How wonderful it must have been for everyone (if not a little nerve wracking for you). Thank you for taking the time to update us!

  10. Looks like it was a wonderful workshop! Beautiful colors!

  11. Sounds like a wondrful workshop and a great way to spend the weekend! The yarn looks amazing too.