There is something blue in the woodshed

Written by [email protected] on July 20, 2010 in Dye House News

Le Rentrée all over France is a time when the outdoor life is coming to a close and people start to settle back in their houses., children return to school, trailers of wood labour towards barns and the bureaucrats answer their telephones again. That is all of course if they are not on strike!

In the Ariège and all along the Pyrenées it is also the time of the transhumance, when the grazing animals are brought down from the high mountain pastures to their winter homes beside the farms. The village next to ours celebrates this event with a grand fete for the passing shepherds which takes the form of a big meal for them and anyone else who wants an excuse to enjoy themselves at a bountiful table.

For dyers the autumn means the last chance to harvest the woad for the season. This can be the third or fourth cut before the sun dips lower and the pigment gets weaker.


If you peek through the knothole in our barn door you can see that there is something blue in the woodshed. To share this autumn fête with you I have dyed with both woad and indigo some Blue-faced Leicester, soft, silky and tightly spun with socks in mind and am offering a 20% discount on both Ciel and De Nimes while stocks last, though if it goes too fast I will dye some more. To get your discount just enter the word woodshed into the discount code box in the shopping cart.

At the end of September we opened our woad patch to local friends and together we harvested the last woad and spent the day round the woad and indigo vats as well as the lunch table of course!


Here are some of the group taking wool hanks out of the indigo vat, note that the colour of the water in the vat is light green. Also note the smiles on the faces!

By the end of the day we had a lot of blue wool, silk cloth, a few tops and blouses, a dress whose lining was frustratingly bluer than the dress itself and even a pair of jeans which were restored to their original blue glory. The lady on the right by the way is wearing a patchwork top she worked in silks naturally dyed on The Secrets of the Natural Dye Garden workshop she did with me in this very garden in August.

WoollyWormhead the hat designer supreme, is holding a Knit Along with two patterns in November, pattern A is designed with Renaissance Dyeing Poll Dorset. Woolly has this to say about the yarn “I really enjoyed working with the yarn, and it did feel like it wanted to be something interesting but also something that warranted it's time, I really do think the yarn matches the pattern - it gives great stitch definition.” You can read more about the Knit Along and her other original patterns on WoollyWormhead's web-site.

The pattern will be available as a kit with a Poll Dorset Skein of your choice at the beginning of November.

Woolly and I hatched the plan for this pattern back at Knitnation, which brings me to my next point, The Bohemian Rhapsody Wrap – This attracted so much attention at Knitnation that the designer Mary Lena Lynx has been working hard to produce the much asked after pattern. It is ready now and it is a wonder of organised art and crocheting skills. The wrap uses the 25m skeins of the main range in an harmonious combination of 75 naturally dyed colours. The kit is available now on the web-site Bohemian Rhapsody. For those of you who bought the main range with the idea to buy the pattern later please e-mail me at the e-mail address below and I will organise this for you.

Bohemian Rhapsody Wrap

I am very grateful to Mary Lena who has put in long hours to bring this about.

And now, it is your turn! My passion is natural dyes and yarns but it is actually YOU who create something with the yarns and threads I dye and I thought it would be interesting if we could all share this with each other. With this in mind I have set up on Picasa the Renaissance Dyeing Gallery. You will need to e-mail me using the contact us page so I can send you an invite to join the Gallery and then you can add your projects and view those of others and add comments to your hearts content, so..

Over to you.

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