Susan Dye


I live in Hitchin, Hertfordshire but was born and grew up in Norwich. I have a BSc in psychology, an MSc in Organisational Psychology and am fascinated by what leads people to finding fulfilment in life. For me it has never been money and status. I love learning, teaching and using my imagination. It’s taken me a long time to come close to finding my niche.

My early working life was in technical fields: graduate student in psychoacoustics; computer programmer in retail and insurance sectors; systems support analyst in banking. This was followed by a series of roles working as a change agent: customer focus manager in banking; campaigns assistant for environmental transport charities; community activist.

It’s in the nature of campaigning that very few people can work at full pelt indefinitely. In my case I recognised that I needed to step back from activism after about 7 years. The trigger to change direction came when a close friend and mentor developed motor neurone disease. I chose to give up paid work for a while in order to help with her home hospicing. This was a transformative experience which coincided with an increased interest in textile craft.

I have no idea whether my name tracks back to plant dyers in my family tree. But nothing can compare to the delight I take in creating colour from home grown plants.  Plant dyeing rapidly became an obsession and my stash of raw materials grew and grew. In 2012 I decided I needed to move to the next stage and learn about design and making.

Partly because I wanted a course locally and also because I was more confident with a sewing machine than knitting needles or a crochet hook, I enrolled on a Patchwork and Quilting City and Guilds course with Studio 39 in Baldock. This has been a revelation.

I can combine my love of colour with research skills and imagination to create original designs to communicate on issues that are dear to my heart. I’ve extended my plant dyeing to fabrics of all kinds.  I’ve developed the visual part of my brain in ways I’d not thought possible. I keep a daily drawing journal out of pure delight and literally see the world differently as a result of the course.

I believe that the patchwork and quilting world has much to discover about the contemporary use of plant dyes and I want to spread awareness of the amazing colours that can be achieved.

I’ve come from dyeing, through a visual practice, to stitch. I look forward to connecting through my blog with stitchers everywhere who want to know more about creating bright colours on fabric from home grown plants.

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