Sunday, November 5, 2023

Closing the doors soon, opening another

I have been doing fiber work officially since 1998, when I started the Haywood Community College Professional Crafts program in Fiber. I will officially end my time as a fiber artist soon. Of course, I started crocheting, knitting and sewing as a teen, learned weaving in my 30s, and unofficially will continue to do most of the techniques I enjoyed all these 25 years. I'm just not being too ambitious about it.  

I am closing the virtual doors to Nice Threads by January of next year. The store site and the website will be closed and the few things I have left in inventory will likely be donated or raffled or some such. I'll keep this blog site open as I sell equipment, materials and maybe some pieces, I haven't decided. 

I will actually be trying out something different in the fiber crafts world, but with a different pace. I've got land being prepared for a pocket willow farm in Old Fort. If you are interested in how that is going (slowly, I assure you) you can check out the blog I am keeping for that project, the Good Willow Farm. All the whys and wherefores can be found there. 

Please bookmark this blog if you are interested in getting some discounted fiber materials and tools - I will be selling off dyeing equipment next. 

You can also catch some last deals on my felted garments and accessories here on the store which will be open til everything sells. You can buy spinning wool and spindles on sale there too!

Monday, August 14, 2023

Booth display system - and more - for sale

 Yes, it's true. No more shows for me. It's time to pass it on. 

Update: These items have been spoken for! I'll be selling other fiber tools, materials and displays in the near future. 

 I'm selling my clothing display racks, director's chair, standing mannequin and hangars - really cheap!  

If you are about to show your clothing for sale at craft festivals, you need a display system. This system is unique, made for me by a local woodworker and is flexible, looks great and most importantly, light to carry and easy to store. 

The uprights and connectors are made of oak and the cross bars are hollow copper tubing, which looks great with the oak. The height and length of the bars are adjustable and two or more bars can be "stacked." I have 4 uprights, and a collection of copper tubes which can make 3 double racks in any 10' booth space, but can also be put in any configuration you have space for. This system is shown in the photo in a shop setting, in a zig-zag. (Note that they are anchored with barbell weights, easy to buy used)

There is a single rack with "waterfall" type arms which can also fit the uprights so the connectors can be interchangeable. 

I am throwing in the mannequin and stand, who has gotten a bit beat up over the years but after a new coat of paint, should look fine. I am also throwing in my hangars, some black plastic, black flocked and regular white plastic hangars. So many, I've not counted them. See below for more photos.

All of above I will sell for $120. 

The director's chair, a must for the booth, is in excellent condition and I'll add it for $50.

Everything for $170.00. 

Delivery available to Asheville area. Charlotte, Hickory, and Winston-Salem are also possible. No shipping or delivery outside the area. 

Email me for details. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A quick post on color

Most first time dyers choose colors based on the array of choices on the display. Dye companies have sample sheets at the store and online for choosing, but out of the 20+ colors, which should you choose? 

Here are some suggestions for choosing your first colors to dye with:

The simplest choice - go with your favorite color to wear, and choose the dye color on the sheet that’s closest. Stick with one color dyeing and you will be sure to like it. 
The best thing about one-color dyeing is you have a target color and don’t have to make any other decisions and you don’t have to do any complicated mixing. 

Layered colors on fleece

But if you don't have a preset idea and want to experiment, layering color has the benefit of surprise and complexity, and is easy to do with this dye process. 

Layering the color means adding 2-3 dyes at the same time, without mixing them first.  There will be suggestions in the next post for how to apply the dyes, but first, you have to choose which colors. 
My main suggestion is to choose two and no more than three colors that all look good with each other.

The confident choice: choose two primary colors (red, blue, yellow), knowing that the color they make when they mix will also be a pure bright color. For example, a red and a blue will also have purple, a blue and a yellow will always make green. 

The stylish choice - Use a color wheel and choose adjacent colors - Choose a color and a color right next to it and the close relationship will have a nice effect together, like turquoise and blue, red and purple. 

The Goth choice: Black adds complexity to a pure color, making shades of that pure color, darker, grayer, subtler versions. Choose Black and one or two brighter colors. 

The adventurous choice: Throw all of the above out the door and use whatever colors call out to you. Remember that mixing any colors that are not primaries will reduce the color saturation, and give you grays. Mixing complementary colors will give you browns. Gorgeous grays and browns, and complex mixes in many cases, but be sure you are ready for sometimes good and sometimes disappointing results. 

If you are dyeing 4 ounces of fiber, then, you will need 250ml of dye in total (following the Tiny Bathroom dye series format) so you can break that amount in half, for two colors (125ml + 125ml), or thirds for three (about 85ml each) or any other combination that adds up to 250. 

The previous post covered mixing up powder dyes so check that out if you haven't already. The next post Dyeing Yarn in a Tiny Bathroom will be coming out within the week. 

Have fun!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Mixing colors in a tiny bathroom

Hopefully you all have read the first installment, and you have an overview of the process, but before we let the dyeing begin, we need to mix powder dyes into liquids.  We'll be measuring dyes with teaspoons,  mixing them with tap water and storing them in plastic containers with twist lids. We'll be protecting your counter with a bin lid as well.

So, here is the video, and the details (equipment list, safety precautions) are below. 

 Please forgive the cramped space, bad lighting and oops, dingy tub you will be seeing. I leave those aspects in because this is what most of us have instead of a big, well-lit dedicated dye kitchen. But we can still make glorious color no matter what!

 See the equipment list below.  

Safety Precautions

Mixing powder dye is the only area in home dyeing where you have to make safety precautions, but they are very doable. 

1. Wear a mask and safety glasses while handling the powder. The powdered dyes are very fine and certain dyes will have pigments that can be irritating  at the least and toxic at the worst if you get them in your nose or eyes.  Isn't it lucky that we already know where to get masks these days?

2. Turn off any fans or heater/ac vents in the bathroom. Even a light breeze can launch powder into the air. If you can't control the ventilation, then measure and mix dye in a protective box (See below).

3. Put down newspaper and spritz it with water on the measuring/mixing area. If any powder falls on the bin lid while it's dry, it can get blown into the air or transferred onto your clothing or hands. Loose powder is both a safety hazard and a clean-up issue - powder dyes are VERY concentrated, and any loose powder can stain countertops and anything else it gets attached to. Wet newspaper and/or paper towels will capture the powder before it transfers elsewhere, and you can throw the damp paper away safely at the end of the session.

4. If there is no way to stop airflow, Set up a Mixing Box. A cardboard box that fits on your counter space, with or without the bin lid, is fine. See the photo & video for the setup, but basically, you will line the inside and surrounding counter with the spritzed newspaper. If you need to work on the counter outside the bin lid, you may want to put down a protective layer of plastic sheeting under the newspaper.


  • A bin lid to use as a work area, to protect the counter, covered in damp newspaper
  • A cardboard box (optional, see above)
  • A spritz bottle with water, to keep the newspaper damp
  • A set of measuring spoons
  • Plastic measuring cup, for 50ml - 500ml and/or
  • Plastic screw-top containers for storing liquid dye, one per color
  • A small plastic cup, for pasting the powder, one per color
  • Plastic spoons for mixing, one per color
  • Wash jug for used spoons and cups 
  • A large funnel, to help with cleanup

None of the above items should ever be used for food afterwards.

How much dye should I make?

You need to know first what your fiber will weigh. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the dry fiber to start. For the purposes of the Tiny Bathroom dye series, I’ve set the maximum per batch at 4 ounces. Larger pots and larger setups will get you bigger dye batches, but a 6 quart pot or crockpot will comfortably dye 4 ounces of yarn or fiber at a time.  

If you don’t have a scale, but are using commercial fiber with a label, just find the weight on the label. If neither option is available, don’t worry. The next post will cover the on-the-spot decisions like colors and quantities. Today, just go ahead and make the 250ml of dye. 

You can always dye less fiber and use less dye and have leftover dye for future use. As well, it’s always good to make a little extra and good also to make your calculations easy. Sticking to metric measurements and rounding your measurements to easy-to-measure numbers makes this part less difficult.

You can store covered dye containers in your home refrigerator as long as you put the plastic containers on a shelf where they won’t interact with food. Best if you have a shoebox or other large lidded box to hold all the containers til you need them. 

How much dye: The short version:

For 4 ounces of fiber, you will need about 230ml of dye to achieve a 2% Depth Of Shade (DOS). That is a medium dark intensity, about a 7 out of 10. It’s a good intense color to start with. Then we’ll round up to 250ml, to make measuring simple. 

That’s the total - if you want to use a red and a blue, you’ll use  125ml each, for example. (We’ll talk more about final color choices when we dye the fiber.)

So you will need to mix 250 ml for each batch. 


250 ml of warm water and

2 teaspoons of dye powder 

The longer version (with some math):

For 4 ounces of fiber, you will need about 230ml of dye at a 2%DOS, requiring about 4.6grams of powder, or 1.84tsp, or .61T. 

Rounding up to 250ml makes it easy - 5 grams of powder or 2 teaspoons of dye = 250ml at 2%DOS

Here’s the gram to teaspoon conversion:

1 gram of dye makes 50ml of liquid dye at 2%DOS (about a 70% darkness)

2.5 grams = 1 tsp dye powder

.4tsp =1 gram of powder = 50ml liquid dye at 2%DOS

5 grams of powder or 2 teaspoons of dye = 250ml at 2%DOS

I am open to all questions and especially math corrections! Next post will be Dyeing yarn in a Tiny Bathroom. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The absolute easiest dyeing you can do at home.

Koolaid dyeing is safe, fun, and quick. If you you find you enjoy dyeing with Koolaid,  the process is not so different than with commercial dyes, but you are safe to dye in the kitchen with kitchen equipment. The yarn for the granny square in the picture was dyed with Koolaid in this process. 

You'll need:

  • A metal, ceramic or glass bowl to soak the fibers
  • A counter to spread out the fiber for painting
  • A steamer (bamboo, or a double boiler type steamer is better than the foldable metal steamers that go inside a pot.)
  • Plastic spoons and small plastic containers for mixing up the liquid dye
  • New/clean foam brushes in 1-2" widths
  • Plastic wrap or lightweight plastic sheeting
  • 1-4 ounces of yarn, roving, loose fleece or 1 yd+/- piece of fabric 
  • Koolaid or similar brand of unsweetened drink mix, in desired colors, 4-8 packets or so
  • White vinegar, maybe 1-2 cups
Koolaid works best on protein, or animal fibers like wool, silk and alpaca. (Plant fibers can be dyed with Koolaid, but with less success. Here's a link to a thorough study, with some suggestions for best results .)

1. Fabric, yarn (skeined), roving and loose fiber can be dyed in the same way. To prepare for dyeing, soak fibers in a bowl with hot tap water and vinegar for about 20 minutes. Use about 1/2 cup vinegar to a gallon of water. New fabrics require simmering with some dish soap to get rid of stabilizers before soaking.  

2. Make a paste of the Koolaid, by adding a small amount of hot tap water and mixing til no more powder is left. This is the most intense color; by adding more water you get more dye, but lighter color. A good starting point is one package of Kool-Aid per one ounce of fiber. Add just enough hot water to make a paintable consistency. 

3. Squeeze out as much soak water as you can, and lay out wet fabric, yarn or fiber in a thin layer on a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a foam brush, apply the dye directly to the fiber. This method allows you to use as many colors as you wish. Work the dye into the fiber and flip it over to be sure it has saturated both sides. 

4. Fold the fiber up in the plastic sheeting and fold securely into a packet. Use tape to secure it if needed. Put the packet in a steamer and steam for 30-45 minutes, depending on how full the steamer is. This sets the dye on the fiber.

5. Remove packets from the steamer and let cool for a bit. Put the dyed fiber in a bowl with hot water and rinse til no more dye rinses out. Hang to dry. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Dyeing in a Tiny Bathroom; Creating color on fiber at home Part 1

 I have been a professional fiber artist for over 20 years and of all the many processes involved in fiber, dyeing is the most magical. I used to have a large studio with a dedicated dye kitchen, because I designed, sewed and dyed clothing, and then when I went into felted garments, I started dyeing wool too. 

I’ve lost my studio, in the end due to climate change and flooding, so I am in a rented space sharing a tiny bathroom with my dye kitchen . But dyeing must continue! If only in a limited form. 

This is the smallest, simplest setup to professionally dye animal fibers that I’ve found. Plant fibers require different dyes and processes that are not as easy in a small residential bathroom. 

Wool is also magical in all its forms, and it’s an ideal fiber to dye because it takes color up beautifully, it’s light and quick drying and the dye bath “exhausts” or transfers all the dye to the fiber. This means much less waste dye that can stain your fixtures when washing up afterwrds

If you are a spinner, I recommend dyeing your own fiber. “Dyed in the wool” means consistency all the way through, and you will get unique yarn that is all your own. Wool commercial yarns are equally wonderful and unique and I’ve got instructions on how to prep both below. 

Dyeing Process prep

This system requires very little room or time and with a little care, will not stain your counter, sink or bathtub and will give you great results - beautiful even saturated color. It is also safe, though keeping kids and pets away is recommended during a dyeing day,  so a lockable door is handy. 

My process uses acid dyes, available from Dharma Trading, Pro Chem or Earth Guild. You can get Jacquard acid dyes at JoAnn’s or similar chain store, but you will get less concentrated colors. However, they are fine to practice with and see if they work for you. I’d advise you to avoid Rit, which is not “fast” in light or wash.  

Acid dyes usually come as a powder that has to be mixed with water to use. This is the only part of the process that has safety precautions, so please tune in to the next installment on what you need to do to mix liquid dyes. Mixed dyes will keep in a refrigerator for several months if necessary, with safety precautions taken to keep the containers separate from food. 

Equipment needed

  • A slow cooker/crockpot with a thermometer probe 

The slow cooker is the most important part of the setup. A cooker with a timer and probe setting will mean you can walk away from it and do other things without having to monitor the temperature. 

I have a 10 year old Hamilton Beach model I bought for $60 and it seems they hold a patent on the probe. An Amazon link is below for a model they have in stock. It is more now, about $80, but if you don’t want to spring for it, you’ll need the optional cooking thermometer.

Another model slow cooker will work if it can hit and hold a temperature of 180-200ºF for about an hour. You can repurpose a used crockpot, but you should not ever use  that porcelain insert or lid ( or the thermometer) for food again. 

To dye 4 ounces of fiber, the cooker will need to hold about 4000 ml comfortably, or about 1 gallon.  A 6 quart cooker works fine. 

Hamilton Beach 6QT Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker (33969A) Hamilton Beach Portable 6 Quart Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker with Lid Lock, Dishwasher Safe Crock & Lid, Temperature Probe, Stainless Steel : Everything Else

(I don’t get anything for recommending this)

  • Submersible cooking thermometer ( optional. See slow cooker info above) Digital thermometers are perfect here, but if you are stuck with an old fashioned one, be sure the range of 100-200º can be clearly read, preferably in 20º increments. 
  • Crockpot bags are similar to oven bags, and either can be used for dyeing. Be sure they are big enough to fit in the cooker. 
  • 2-4 Plastic containers with screw-on lids and 2-3 measuring cups in different sizes able to hold 100-500ml, or about 1/4 cup - 2 cups. Measurements on the side are essential.
  • A pitcher with measurements on the side, holding 1000ml or about a quart
  • 4-6 Plastic spoons for mixing and stirring dyes
  • A set of measuring spoons (optional if using dye additives below) 
  • A spoon with a long handle for stirring and lifting fiber in the pot
  • A plastic storage bin lid, preferably with a flat top, to use upside down, giving you a ledge to keep drips corralled. Be sure it fits on your counter with your cooker and a little newspaper covered workspace inside the lid. 
  • A plastic colander and a plastic washtub to wash and drain the dyed fiber.

  • A deep plastic container that fits in your sink to hold utensils and containers that are covered in dye or additives for later washing, AND a large plastic funnel to keep waste dye water out of your sink or tub.  I just use an empty gallon jug (white vinegar is usually in such a sturdy container) to cut in half and the top makes a perfect funnel while the bottom is my waste jug. 

None of the above utensils or equipment should be used with food after it has been used for dyeing. 

Materials and additives

  • Up to 4 ounces of fiber roving, or yarn made of wool, silk or other animal fibers. Fabric will be too bulky for this scale of setup.  
  • About 250ml of liquid dye, per 4 ounces of fiber, about a cup, for a medium dark color result
  • 1 tsp Sodium acetate (optional additive to hold acidity)
  • 1 Tbs Glaubers salt (optional additive to ensure take-up)
  • 50-75ml white vinegar, about 1/4 cup 
  • 4000 ml water 

About colors

Mixing colors is it’s own long subject, but if you break the 250ml  of dye into 100 of one color and 150 of another, you can get complex color mixes. Use primary colors to avoid browns. Use less dye to get lighter colors. Surprisingly beautiful results can happen. 

Here is a quick tour of my tiny bathroom dye kitchen. 

Preparing your yarn for dyeing

For best results, you should be dyeing white yarn or fiber. Yarn should be set up as a skein, with 4 figure-eight ties to keep it organized while dyeing. Be sure it's loose, as shown in the closeup, so the strands aren't packed together.

Here is a video about preparing fleece for dyeing


The next Dyeing in a Tiny Bathroom post will cover mixing powder into liquid dyes. I've added a new post for those not yet ready to dive into serious dyeing - Koolaid dyeing! Click here for the easiest dyeing you can do at home.

Then we’ll start dyeing! Follow me here,  Instagram or Mastodon to get alerted to new installments. 

Update 1/16/23

(h/t @Midnightjaz )

I have a wholesale account for PFD (prepared for dyeing) yarn, with Henry's Attic, and they have an amazing array of choices in all the fibers. 

But most of you will never need to buy in bulk, so I have GREAT news for you - Dharma Trading is carrying Henry's Attic yarns now on their website, no need to get a wholesale account. DT is also the best source for dyes and additives. If my dye process doesn't work for you, they have a good knowledgebase of instructions for many fiber  techniques. 

My favorite HA wool  yarns to dye are their Superwash Merino yarns- machine washable, like Smartwool - like Kona or Zohar. Great color take-up and wonderful yarns!

And, if a rabbit hole into tie dyeing appeals, Dharma Trading is the tie-dye guru.

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