How We Create Our Natural Dyed Cotton Yarn
A blog article by Shimena
About Natural Dyes
The concept of ‘Natural Dyes’ is by no means a new one and refers to all the dyes derived from the natural sources.
Ethiopia has a long tradition of using natural sources for textile coloration, and Shimena wants to maintain and develop this ancient knowledge.
Our natural dye stuff we collect by strolling through Arba Minch’s lovely countryside, foraging for the plants that we use to gain our colorful yarns, and the utilization of fruit and vegetable waste, like Avocado seeds or Onion skins, from restaurant kitchens.
A farmer of Shimena is collecting leaves to process them into dye.
The first activity for the dye process is the scouring, where the raw cotton is cleaned from impurities and residues, followed by processing the yarn. The yarn is then washed, if needed bleached and pre-mordanted.
To produce the amazing Natural Dye colors, the dye stuff is sorted out in our facilities, cleaned, washed, if required dried, then boiled in water to gain the color stock, and lastly filtered.
Dyeing the Yarn
To absorb the desired color, the prepared cotton yarn is put in a big pot, covered with water, heated until it boils and gently simmered. The precious natural color liquid is added and some lemon juice or vinegar is applied to support the color fixing.
Finally, the beautiful natural dyed cotton yarn is washed, hanged in a shaded and airy place for drying, waiting to become one of our amazing handmade textiles.
Now the yarn is ready to be further processed into a scarf, shawl or blanket.
More Stories about Shimena
Over the last three years, we have seen community trust and respect grow alongside economic security. 60 % of the women in our raw material production and processing as well as our employees are women.
Traditionally, men are the ones who take on weaving and the production of textiles and garments as a task. Shimena wants to change these structures and also enables women to learn this ancient weaving culture.
Every piece of clothing we buy has a story that connects to our own history as soon as we see and wear it for the first time. The stories that happen afterwards we know or they are not written yet, but what about the story before? And by whom was it written?
Everything starts with the procurement of the cotton; just like the dyes and almost every other raw materials, this is sourced from the local area around Abra Minch.
The challenge that I observed from the artisans is they used to spend all their earnings they got from weaving without any saving.
The enterprise also has helped to save the traditional skill transformation and preserve the art of weaving by developing modern use and upgrading the products.