Natural Dye Retreat with Julia Billings 24th-27th April 2020
Join horticulturist and plant dyer Julia Billings for a weekend-long intensive on transferring the colours found in natural dyes onto yarn and fabric… Set outside at Gartur Stitch Farm and full of practical skill-building and joyful exploration, it should give you the skills and conﬁdence to develop your own dye practice!
We’ll cover all the steps involved in dyeing; exploring the potential of the ﬂora found in our landscape and our pantries and sourcing exotic, traditional dyestuffs; preparing and mordanting ﬁbre; setting up and working with both a dyebath and an indigo vat; overdyeing to create complex colours; keeping records of dye experiments; safe dyeing practice and other tips for dyeing with plants and other natural materials.
Beginning on Friday at 4pm, we’ll settle in, get our bearings around the farm and meet for an evening meal. We’ll also begin the weekend’s dyework by exploring ﬁbre selection and preparation and setting up mordant baths to prepare yarn and fabric for dyeing and some of our dyebaths to help release their colours.
On Saturday, we’ll ﬁre up the dyepots and head out to ﬁnd and collect local dyeplants around the farm. Over the day, we’ll work with numerous dyebaths made from local and imported raw material to dye a range of colours and, using the ﬁrst and subsequent baths, a range of shades. We’ll also explore overdyeing and the use of modifying agents to expand our set of beautiful colours. On Saturday evening, we’ll enjoy a campﬁre feast, hopefully under the stars if the Scottish weather allows…
Sunday begins with indigo! We’ll follow the steps involved in creating an indigo vat and then, while it rests, look into the history of this old and venerated dyestuff and explore shibori methods of folding, clamping, binding and stitching fabric to create patterning. We’ll dip our ﬁbres multiple times to achieve good depth of colour and overdye shades dyed on Saturday to make greens, teals, purples and other complex colours. We’ll end the workshop by collating and labelling our yarn and fabric samples and looking at some helpful dye resources. We’ll then spend the evening relaxing together by the ﬁre, with plenty of opportunity to discuss questions and make plans for summer dyeing…
And, after one last farm breakfast on Monday morning, we’ll say goodbye!
Skills required: None
Included: Accommodation and all meals. Each participant will take away a minimum of 32 x 10gm miniskeins of British wool sock yarn and samples of fabric dyed in the workshop, as well as comprehensive notes on the everything covered in the workshop.
Transport to the venue not included (but transfers Stirling train station can be arranged).
To bring: Please bring a pen, notepad, closed shoes suitable for walks around the farm and plenty of layers (most of the workshop will take place outside and Scotland can be cool and rainy, even in midsummer!). Some natural dyes stain so please bring an apron or wear clothes that can handle a few splashes.Please note: the retreat is held on a working farm with lots of free-range animals and there will be plenty of opportunities for pats over the weekend!
We are offering a range of housing options for your stay:
- Shared Bunk Room - £400
- Shared Twin Room - £450
- Single Room - £700
If you would like to share a room with someone specific, please let us know at checkout.
We are offering a series of payment plans to make the retreat accessible to everyone who wants to attend. We are asking for an initial deposit and then you will be invoiced according to the plan you have chosen.