Thoughts On Dyeing

“Of the blue, purple and crimson yarns they made finely worked vestments, for ministering in the holy place” Exodus 39:1

Taking breaks from weaving the white stole, I’ve been dyeing the yarn for the red and purple stoles. Because I am going to weave the red and purple stoles from the same warp threading (different tie-ups and treadling), I want a warp that is a “plummy” red. Then I will use a brighter red for the weft of the red stole and a dark purple for the weft of the purple stole.


I admit it, I am no great shakes as a dyer. In fact the red warp started out as a failed dye experiment. I had several skeins that had been dyed with cochineal and over-dyed with indigo. The result was blotchy and not at all what I was hoping for. The skeins went back into my stash where I didn’t have to look at them. This time round I’m not messing with natural dyes. I’m going straight to the more predictable results from technical dyes.

As I am measuring the dye powder and other ingredients for my Sabrachron F - what you see is what you get - dyes, I marvel at the dedication of those ancient Israelite dyers. On what was essentially a forty year camp-out, they took the care to dye precious linen threads – undoubtedly brought with them out of Egypt – blue and purple and crimson for Aaron their high priest to wear in the tabernacle they were building (are Kermes indigenous to the Negev?).

I think on this again several hours later when I’m trying to wash the last traces of red dye from my warp. I gave up counting the rinses. How did they do this in the desert? “Hey, Moses, can you come over here and smite this rock? I need some more water to rinse my yarn.”

To pick my colors, I referred to the sample notebook made in Sarah Lamb’s workshop class at SOAR several years ago. I’ve found this book to be an invaluable resource ever since. I used my crockpot set on “low” for the dye bath, but otherwise followed the instructions on Pro-Chem’s web page.