Monday, 29 September 2014

Debbie Tomkies – A Dyer’s Recipe Book

When I was putting together this course I asked myself, what would I have liked to have known when I started out as a dyer 25 years ago? And the answer was both simple and a bit embarrassing!

When it comes to writing books, articles or patterns, preparing handouts and tutorials, I am a highly organised, note-taking, sticky-note wielding, filing fanatic. A place for everything and everything in its place was my Grandad’s motto and I’ve always (tried) to follow it. But my art was another story, particularly my dyeing. I have samples and photos from “back in the day” with no idea what dyes I used, what yarn it was and how I created the effect. So, some years ago I decided to start recording my processes and methods, keeping my colourways and building what is now a substantial catalogue of recipes.

Do I wish I’d done that from day one? I certainly do. Do I wish I’d had the opportunity to make a big headstart on my recipe catalogue back then, I certainly do. So, if you are a serendipitous dyer who would like to get your dye catalogue started or an experienced dyer who keeps telling yourself you’ll get more organised “next time”. If you’re a bit daunted by the thought of all that measuring and recording, or if you’re a natural-born organiser and like to have all your knowledge at your fingertips, saving time (and money) by being able to quickly replicate your favourite colours, I think you’ll love this course.

The course will be broadly in two parts and you can join both parts or just one. In the first part, we'll be making sample cards using wool as our primary fibre type. We'll be building a reference recipe book and the aim is that at the end of the course you'll have a good selection of repeatable recipes that you can use as an ongoing resource. There will also be the opportunity to work with alternative fibres to wool and to try out your recipes on a larger scale, as well as playing with some fun techniques and dyeing methods. I haven't finalised the course timetable yet but broadly speaking I anticipate it will look something like this...

Essential dyeing principles:

  • Depth of shade (DOS) - what it is, how it works and how to calculate it to get the results you want
  • Colour mixing and blending
  • How fibre type affects colour
  • Record-keeping - ideas for keeping track of your experiments, projects and colourways
  • Putting it into practice:
  • Colour theory basics:
  • Producing great colour schemes and colourways
  • Working with inspiration materials (photographs, fabrics, pictures, objects etc.) and using these to develop successful colourways
  • Dyeing techniques and methods:
Exploring a range of interesting dyeing techniques to produce great yarns that look the way you want them to!

This part of the course will run twice so students can join for just half the week if they wish (either the first or second half of the week). For students who want to get deeper into colour or who would like to continue with their recipe book, try additional techniques or work on their own projects, there will be the opportunity to stay on for the full week. For these students, I'll be there to provide guidance, support and ideas but the structure will be less rigid and more self-directed.

The images used in this blog post represent some of the work from earlier Summer Schools. To see more examples you can follow this link. These were for a different course in that it was more about techniques and less structured around recipes but they should give you a good idea of how much fun we have!

EXTRA (ADDED) INFORMATION FROM DEBBIE ABOUT MATERIALS COSTS: To ensure everyone gets the maximum benefit from the course and consistent results, all materials are supplied. This includes a selection of lovely yarns from our extensive range (200-300g), sample cards, dyes etc. The charge for all materials is £30 for short course students (part week). Students staying on for the full week will receive additional sample yarns, sample cards, dyes etc. and will be able to bring their own yarns/fibres etc. to dye. For full week students the materials fee will be £40. There will also be lots of lovely yarn and fibre to buy during the week if anyone needs any extras.

I do hope you're inspired to join me and please don't hesitate to get in touch via my email,, if you have any additional questions. My courses are always flexible and I like everyone to have a great time so I'm sure you'll enjoy it :-)