A Natural Dyeing Weekend w Kristine Vejar

Friends, we are so so SO excited for September's Natural Dyeing workshop with Kristine Vejar! Kristine's shop in Oakland, CA, A Verb for Keeping Warm has long been at the top of our most inspiring places to visit - carrying all the supplies you need for knitting, sewing, spinning, weaving, and felting, as well as a dyeing studio and a natural dye garden. Just look at her blog and Instagram and you will understand what we mean when we say that this woman is incredibly cool.

Below, we chatted a little with Kristine about her work with natural dyes, her favorite projects, and her upcoming workshop!

CS: You have some incredible talent in a huge variety of crafts - is there a specific one that you are particularly drawn to these days? Or are you - more of an "equal opportunity artist”?

KV: Awww thanks! Natural dyeing always takes the most space in my heart and mind. This past year, I travelled around the world researching natural dyes. I adore exploring how people around the world use natural dyes, utilizing their local plants, and incorporate the act of making clothing into their lives. In my own work, I am very drawn to the idea of how to engage naturally dyed color into my sewing and knitting projects. I began this approach when writing The Modern Natural Dyer - which is why it has 20 projects instead of simply being a plant / color catalogue. And I intend to dig deeper and keep exploring this theme. So this means always striving to become a better sewer and knitter, as well as natural dyer

CS: Do you have a favorite project that you've made?

KV: Whoa, that is a hard question! I guess my book is my favorite project I’ve made. Inside my book, there is a project titled Snapshot Quilt which I like a lot - as there are many layers to the process which I think makes the finished quilt look more interesting. Otherwise, I have been in the process of studying the style and type of indigo grown and used in Japan for the past five years. This is an ongoing work in progress and one that I love very much.

CS: What made you decide to work with natural dyes, rather than ones you can purchase in a store?

KV: As an undergraduate, I went to India to study Art and Architecture. I learned Gandhi created a cottage industry in which people spun cotton and wove their own cloth in a successful effort to boycott the British and regain control over their country. This is the first time I began to see cloth as a way to achieve social justice and began to also see cloth as an extension of the Earth - a gift really. I traveled to the desert to work with a group of nomadic women, named Rabari, who have incredible style, make their own clothing, and embroider and applique an agreed upon set of symbols and motifs across their clothing and quilts. It turned out that the desert, named The Great Rann of Kutch, is home to many communities who have a rich heritage of creating arts and crafts. One such community is a very large, extended family of natural dyers. I was floored to discover color could come from plants, which of course it does, where would dye have come from before we had chemicals? So I became fascinated and began to learn more about natural dyeing. I thought, and still do think, it is magical yet there is also a solid scientific foundation as well. Both are inherent in the process. I also enjoy cooking and find it very similar to natural dyeing - and endlessly fascinating. I also love that I can identify many more plants. It makes me feel happy, calm, and safe to connect with the natural world. 

CS: What is the biggest surprise you've had while experimenting with natural dyes?

KV: The first time I saw that for the indigo vat to work, the color of the vat must be green - thus, the fabric emerges green, and then turns blue as it is exposed to air. 

CS: Can you tell us a little more about what to expect during your weekend workshop here at Craft South?

KV: We are going to have a fun-filled, action packed two days of natural dyeing! I love that we have two days to work together because this means we can really get into the process. I am going to walk the students through The Modern Natural Dyer. Yes, there is a lot of text in my book - so I am going to whisk you through it and point out the parts of the book which are a necessity to start the natural dyeing process and to achieve long-lasting, vibrant colors. I will also be giving lots of tips and tricks to incorporating natural dyeing into your life. Together, we will create a series of colorful swatches, giving you a taste of the many techniques explored in the book - so you can easily continue your exploration into the facets of natural dyeing which are of most interest to you. 

Are you feeling as inspired as we are? Join us next month for The Modern Natural Dyer: An Introduction w Kristine Vejar - this is a weekend that you do NOT want to miss!