Snow Dyeing- In Memory of My Sister

Yesterday, I woke up to a world that looked like this:

This was significant to me for a few reasons.  It was late March, and we’ve had a very mild winter.  The only other frozen precipitation we have had this winter was some freezing fog and one wet snow followed very quickly the next morning by several inches of freezing rain, creating sheets of ice.

I have seen blog posts about snow dyeing for the past few years and have wanted very much to try it.  Last winter, our only snow came around Thanksgiving, when I was busy with family plans and the holiday.  I assumed there would be more snow later for snow dyeing if we were already getting it so early, so I didn’t take the time then to try it.  We had no more snow last winter.  We’ve had no more this winter, either- sheets of ice just wouldn’t work.  I had decided that it probably wasn’t going to happen this year, and I could just push it once again to the back of mind and hope for snow next year.

Also, another part of this story is that my youngest sister, just 37 years old, passed away very unexpectedly this past Saturday.  Karissa adored snow and was as excited as a young child whenever there was any.

When I saw the snow this morning, it felt like it was connected to Karissa somehow- a gift from her.  I realized immediately that it looked like snow that would work well for snow dyeing, although I also knew that it was going to be warming up quickly, so I would need to get started right away.  It seemed like a lesson about that, too:  don’t put off anything meaningful that you can do today.  I have some regrets about things I’d put off with Karissa.  She had asked me to knit her a pink hat and we’d chosen a pattern and yarn and I hadn’t gotten to it yet.  I thought there would be more time, but there wasn’t.  I felt like the unexpected snow this morning was her saying that it was okay, that she understood, and she was giving me a gift of something she loved that she also knew somehow I had been wanting.  She gave me a beautiful scene to wake up to and  an opportunity, but I had to take it right now, so a reminder to try to do that, too.

So- I worked quickly.  I took the dog out and then started soaking some fabric in soda ash solution while I grabbed a quick bite to eat.  I then mixed up some dye, using Fuchsia, Golden Yellow, and Strong Navy (all from  Dharma Trading).

I didn’t bother with folding any patterns, but just sort of scrunched the fabric up on screens suspended over basins to catch the drips.  Everything was starting to drip outside, so I knew I didn’t have much time and just kept everything simple:

I then filled up a bowl with snow and piled it on top of the fabric:

When there seemed to be enough, I poured on the dye colors randomly.  It sort of looked like a giant snow cone pile to me:

I let it sit outside for a couple of hours, and as the temperature rose, the snow started to melt and drip through.  I brought it inside to let it finish melting.  When the snow had all melted, I wrapped it in plastic and let it batch on top of my warm clothes dryer.  I don’t know if I needed to do that, since I have seen instructions where there doesn’t seem to be a warm batching time, but I decided to do it anyway since I knew it couldn’t hurt anything.  I then left it overnight. This morning, I rinsed it and ran it through the wash with synthropol as I usually do.  This is my final result, which I love:

Here are some closeups of a few of the sections which show a little more of the detail:

I loved getting to try this and I will always think that this opportunity was a gift from sister.



  1. Sue Clark said,

    March 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Karyn what an amazing blessing your sister gave to you! How beautiful it came out. I hope that you do something very special with this fabric and always keep it as a reminder of your sister. I believe she gave you that blessing . . . .She is your angel forever more.

  2. Valerie said,

    March 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm


  3. Judy Herring said,

    March 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    These are gorgeous! Karissa in Snow Cone – the only thing you left out was the bacon!

  4. phoenixhopes said,

    March 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Karyn, What a special way to honor your sister and a such a beautiful result. I love it!

  5. Peggy Edmunds said,

    March 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Oh, Karyn, that is beautiful! When I first saw it, I saw a tree, reflected in water. Maybe because the Tree of Life art work has been catching my eye lately. This would be awesome framed. It is a beautiful textile art piece. I agree – Karissa is so well represented! What a loving tribute – from her to you, and from you to her, it would make me smile each time I saw it, coming from the beauty of two sisters relationship, the color of their Love. Love this!!! You make the coolest stuff!

  6. Jaci Presley said,

    March 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    That is such a wonderful thing for your sister to do. And for you to do in her memory. Beautiful, Karyn.

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