3 Book Reviews: Natural Colors & Customized Shawls

I read voraciously and love when I read books in groups that create possibilities I hadn’t expected when I started each title. That’s the case with these three books. First, I’ll provide short thoughts on each title of the trio and then how they could be combined for exciting new possibilities.

Book: Custom Shawls for the Curious and Creative Knitter

Custom Shawls for the Curious and Creative Knitter

by Kate Atherley and Kim McBrien Evans

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Quick Thoughts

Custom Shawls helps knitters systematically understand requirements of different shapes of shawls and how color can affect outcome. It also provides tools, through the form of wonderful charts and clear formulas to answer questions of how do I make a shawl shaped like x, and what if I combined that element x with y? The charts and formulae are what caught my attention the most, they cover a range of topics from gauge and yardage to the math for the surface area of different shapes. There are also several patterns to help you understand the concepts before you jump into the endless design possibilities unleashed by this book.

Book cover: Journeys in Natural Dyeing

Journeys in Natural Dyeing: Techniques for Creating Color at Home

by Kristine Vejar and Adrienne Rodriguez

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Quick Thoughts

Beautifully written as part travel memoir and part dyeing handbook, Journeys in Natural Dyeing, has me eager to try and see what will happen with locally sourced dye materials (from my kitchen — avocado pits, and from my backyard — acorns!). There are recipes and discussion of adapting from larger scale dyeing to a more approachable kitchen set-up. What I appreciate most isn’t actually related to the process of creating and using dyes. Throughout the book there is a reminder to take notes and observe. I found the shade cards absolutely stunning and their accompanying dye chart incredibly valuable. You, the reader, are basically being handed a natural dye recipe book with samples. Yes, it is imperative to try the dyes on your fibers and make your own notes on process, however you are handed a wealth of knowledge in one book.

book cover: true colors

True Colors: World Masters of Natural Dyes and Pigments

by Keith Recker

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Quick Thoughts

If you enjoyed reading Journeys in Natural Dyeing and wanted to learn more about how different artists embrace it, this is a beautiful and different natural color journey. This is not a story of yarn; the artists dye a multitude of materials. It doesn’t romanticize the hard work involved and showcases the vast and complex knowledge and traditions of natural dyers around the globe.

Deeper thoughts on the 3 books

There’s the simple way to explore with these books. Take a book-based adventure cross referencing Journeys in Natural Colors with True Colors and use those dye elements to then create a custom shawl.

I’m planning something a bit more unique. I’ll look around my local spaces (kitchen and yard) and learn how things I find there can create dye. I’ll explore different dye techniques and experiment on any material I can find with different methods, years ago I read Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking. I have many ideas. When I experiment with yarn, I’ll also look into color combinations and shawl shapes I may not turn to by default. I’m intrigued by the shapes and curious how some dyes might combine and how they may react to different materials.

Reader interactions

One Reply to “3 Book Reviews: Natural Colors & Customized Shawls”

  1. Turmeric + copper sulfate is my favorite combination. It’s a really intense, weird, bronze-y green. I love it!


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