Gail Callahan, Storey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-60342-468-4, $18.95
I’m fascinated by dyeing threads and have dyed my own thread and canvas at various times. But most books on dyeing are frustrating to me because they deal with dyeing in quantities too large for the small amounts needed for stitchery.
If I’m thinking about dyeing 5-10 yards or a 16″ square piece of canvas, a book on dyeing 2 yards of fabric or enough wool for a sweater won’t help me.
One of the great things about Callahan’s book is that she understands and encourages dyeing in quantities this small. Her idea of dyeing mini-skeins is perfect for needlework.
I also love that she uses a wide-variety of techniques and types of dyes. The book is not, as many dyeing books are, a set of recipes without much background or ways to experiment. Instead, from the beginning, it encourages experimentation, and assumes that you, as a home dyer, ar looking for the unique.
She’s open about her failures and also talks about ways to recover from them.
The book begins with several introductory chapters on dyes and dyeing. In one of them is one of my favorite techniques, “Playing with Grocery-Store Dyes,” which uses food coloring and spices to dye. The final introductory chapter is about color, concluding with a method to dye your own color wheel.
The heart of the book is her no-fear dyeing technique. Grocery-store dyeing and monochromatic multi-colors were covered in the early chapters. This section blossoms with 17 different methods to dye yarn and fleece. Some of these use loose thread, and some use yarn on cones and could be adapted to threads on spools, in balls, or in skeins.
They are also innovative, adapting fabric techniques, such as tie-dye, and even cheese-making techniques )mozzarella balls) to make unusual threads.
The book concludes with a small selection of patterns for using your yarns.
It’s a delightful book, a great jumping off place for home-dyeing, and very useful for the stitcher.