The Garden of Midgaard is run by me, Astrid. I’m quite a systematic natural dyer. That, I’m sure, has to do with my background in science!
My original training is in molecular biology, and for some years, I made a living trekking the Globe (with my furniture) to take temporary positions in research. Those were fun years of learning, but now I’m finally back in Denmark. I am now supplementing my education with more biology.
Many with a passion for natural dyeing just “try out stuff”. So do I, of course, but my experimentation tends to be more systematic – years of lab training tend to do that! I also find it really interesting to dig a bit into the chemistry that underlies natural dyeing.
A bit of theory makes the whole enterprise of dyeing much more interesting to me. There’s still plenty of surprises – natural dyeing will always be unpredictable.
In Norse mythology, Midgaard is the part of the world where we humans live. The name has an added meaning for me, in my personal thinking it also means right here, where I am, right now. As such, the name fits my yarns, since they are made right here, and their specific color could not be achieved anywhere else since the water used (both rain and tap) influences the colors achieved in natural dyeing.
Why Natural Dyes?
For the first millennia of human history, any color on textiles was natural. Colors were not easy to come by, so any splash of color was much longed for, and many times, it was for the elite. That all changed in 1856, when the first synthetic dye was made from chemicals found in oil.
So why even use natural dyes, when there exists such a range of chemical easy-to-use, wash and light fast colors? Well, first of all, I believe in colors from renewable sources – and that certainly is the case with any plant material that grows anyway, in a forest or by the side of the road. It’s also the case with animal and lichen dyes, although in that case, the gift that we receive from nature (or, decide to take) is a bigger one. Secondly, I think that living colors from natural dyes are simply more beautiful. They glow from within in a way that synthetic stuff just never does.