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BellaOnline's Tatting Editor

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July 30 2013 Tatting Newsletter


Thread to Dye for!

I have been on a trip to Idaho and stopped on the return trip to visit the Crazy Horse monument which is located a mountain or two southeast of Mt. Rushmore. I first viewed the Crazy Horse carving in 2003 when I returned after 18 years in Anchorage, Alaska to the lower 48 states to retire down to our home farm in central Illinois. This trip I could see definite progress in the carving. It will be fabulous when done, but this will not be finished in my lifetime. It is a wonderful place to stop and learn about the Native Americans and their project. There is an educational movie and a great museum, also.

Two exhibits in the museum area dealt with natural fibers and dyeing with natural materials. These two exhibits showed me just how spoiled I am. Take a look at this little diorama of a woman preparing yarn for weaving.
small diorama of Navajo woman preparing wool for use

I enjoy making dollhouse miniatures, so I smiled to see the small wool carding tools. The yarn balls were displayed on plates made to look like miniature flat baskets. And there was even a mini spindle in the woman's hand. Then I looked up and spotted this educational display matching natural materials to the dyed threads. That was when I realized how spoiled I am.

At my finger tips I have dozens of balls of threads all ready to wind up and tat. And they come in a dizzying array of colors. The new Lizbeth thread has many variegated varieties and those also have matching solid colors. All around my office, sewing and tatting rooms I see threads and fibers and fabric in amazing styles and colors. And I have acquired it, not with the sweat of my brow from harvesting natural plants, not from retting flax nor from carding wool. Not from standing over hot pots of boiling water, mordant and hanks of yarn. No, I acquired this bounty of color with a click of the mouse, purchasing any color that took my fancy from store or estore. Spoiled, that's me.
chart of natural plants used for dyeing thread

The labels are too small to read but let me share some of the information with you. Prickly Pear Cactus creates a lovely tree brown. Purple Beeplant yields a bright orange. Sunflowers give the thread a sunny yellow glow. Red Juniper Root, Red Rock and Black Walnut shells create shades of black. Rose hips dye out pale yellow while Brown Onion skins turn out brownish orange-yellow. Sage Brush yields a lovely sage green color.

I am glad to know that among the tatting community there is also a group of fibers artists hand dyeing thread for us. I have a great respect for them and for those many dyers who perfected the art of dyeing thread. I will never take a beautifully colored ball of thread for granted again. Happy Tatting!



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