The Canopy at Cathedral Grove - late October 2011

If you live anywhere coastal, northern or very far southern – you have somewhat colourless winters.  Many shades of white and blue for the very northern or southern area’s of the world and more shades of grey and green than you ever thought possible for the northern and southern coastal area’s of the world!

I am not trying to describe anywhere tropical – they are surrounded by colour all the time, with lush foliage and flowers to delight the eyes!  I lived in Malaysia as a pre-teen, and I still remember the vivid colours of everything, flowers, leaves, bugs – even the fabrics were more vibrant!

I live on the West Coast of Canada, on Vancouver Island.  Many think of Canada and think only of snow and cold, but here on the Island the climate is very temperate, not too cold, and therefore not normally much snow, but we get a lot of rain, and grey days.  We have evergreen trees and bushes, in every colour of green and because of our mild winters can even have some flowers still blooming in January, but the colours of winter are still predominantly green and grey!

Adding colour to a Winter day - Nov 26 2010

To compensate for the palette we like to add colour to our lives by knitting with colours or adding colours to undyed yarns.  I like to paint the dye directly onto the knitted fabric, others dye their yarns before they start knitting.  Some dyers use commercial dyes and others natural sourced dyes, but we are all in search of colour!

I have been conversing with “Cita” another blogger.  Her name is not really “Cita” that is just how I think of her.  Cita lives in Chile and is a Spinner and Weaver.  She knits as well.  Cita lives on a farm and has her own sheep.  She shears her sheep by hand.  Cita is a fibre junkie, just like me.  Lately Cita has been playing with natural dying and is using a solar oven to dye and set her yarns.  Check it out.  I thought that this was very interesting.  If we had more sun in the summer I wouldn’t mind trying that out!

So far my interest in natural dyes is limited to reading.  The book that I enjoy the most is the Dyers Garden by Rita Buchanan.  I think that growing the flowers would be wonderful, I am not so sure that I really want to play with the natural dyes yet.  Even the thought of the garden is a little daunting – the deer most likely would eat everything!

A regular visitor!

Another technique that I have tried is tea dying – as tea is something that I always have in my home.  I wanted to try it out as a dye.

My tea dyed yarns - ready for knitting.

I have been told that tea is more a stain than a dye.  Tea staining has been used to distress fabric and garments for theatre.  It adds aging and a natural, almost Sepia tone to fabrics.

This project, Afternoon Tea Scarf, was my first venture into natural dying.  There will be more, as time allows.

As you know time is one of those quick-moving, always disappearing items in our lives.  But as my interest grows so suddenly will my ability to find the “time” to learn and do more.

There are many dyers on the Island who offer workshops on natural dyeing, including indigo dyeing.  Those workshops are on my list of must-do’s – but not just yet!  There is still more that I want to do with the painting on knitting!

The finished Afternoon Tea Scarf, bright against the greens and greys!

How to you add colour to your Winters?  Do you work with vibrantly coloured yarns? Or do you paint your walls with deep colours?  Are you a winter gardener, coaxing the flowers of winter to bloom?

Happy Knitting