Book Review: In Search of the Perfect Green – and Orange, Too!

stefanie dye book

In 1997, Stefania Isaacson opened her business, Handspun by Stefania and quickly realized she needed to learn how to dye fibers to create beautiful colors for her yarn.  She discovered natural dyes and began to concoct unusual and striking combinations of spinning fibers and hand spun yarns.

Now after many years she has written a very lively book about her journey into the world of natural dyes, hand spinning, and her pursuit of green, of which there is no single dye plant source. “In Search of the Perfect Green – and Orange, Too!” is a wonderful study into 23 different yellow dyes from the flowers and wood that along with indigo create the base colors required for producing natural green.  Orange is produced by combining the same yellow base with madder red.

Her richly illustrated book details all the steps it takes to identify, gather and dye fibers with detailed recipes and procedures.  It is fascinating to see how each plant yields a different shade of yellow. With the addition of madder, the orange shades also vary from Chinese red to bright tangerine.  An added bonus is a very carefully detailed section on safe and non-toxic mordanting (the pretreatment used for natural dyes) plus an excellent section on mastering indigo dipping.

Grab her book and take a wander into your garden.  You will be surprised and delighted at the number of dye plants at your feet and the beautiful colors they produce.