I really, really like Jenny Dean's book. I've read several books about dying and none are as thorough as hers. This book is beautifully illustrated and very well designed. It is very informative and practical in it's orientation. It give instructions on how to make you own mordant as well as how to extract natural dyes. The book has been a real inspiration and it it is the one (out of several books on dyeing that I own) that I refer to the most. If you only want to buy one book about dyeing, I recommend this one.
I found the book technically very useful. It just goes into the important information one needs to know in order to "Grow, Prepare and Use Natural Plant Dyes". The only issue I found with it, is that some of the plants are not to be found in the UK country side and/or gardens. As I am much more into trying to use what wild nature already has to offer, I found the concept of growing the plants not matching my practice. On the other hand I haven't yet found a book that shows and explain, which are the plants to be used for dying that you can already find in nature without growing them, so I guess this is really the closest match, among the all of the books I explored, to what I was looking for and it is indeed a very well written and edited book! Maybe one day I will be able to put my research and knowledge in a book and fill the gap my self.
This is definately the book I will buy when I finally get to doing my own dyeing, as a fairly environmentally aware gardener and knitter, patchworker and embroiderer the idea of growing and using my own dyes is very appealing and Dean's book is clear and concise.
Dean's book begins with a fascinating introduction on the history of using dyes right back from prehistoric times through the manufacture of synthetic dyes during the industrial revolution to present day forms of dyeing and cloth manufacture.
Then she goes through dyeing techniques, making the bewildering world of equipment, terminology and techniques clear with concise easy to follow text, step by step instructions, illustrations and tables, covering preparations of dye stuffs, types of fibres and preparation for dyeing, mordants, modifiers, and creating a record of your experiments. Dean emphasises safety and environmental responsibility clearly and concisely.
Thirdly there is an index of dye plants giving the various colours that can be achieved, their source (roots, flowers, barks etc), cultivation and harvest, range, availability, planting and harvesting times, growing habit and processing and dyeing instructions.
This is a well written and beautifully laid out book. I'm itching to get going as a novice "natural dyer". I have some experience of using commercial chemical dyes so already understand many of the principles, and look forward to this book expanding my knowledge and practical abilities.