This post is part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion, share pics and projects on this blog or the glorious Needle and Spindle or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.
Once upon a time there was some raw Suffolk fleece. And then, it was spun into a 3 ply yarn. And then, it met several eucalyptus dye baths… and then a nice gentle soaking rinse or three…
A series of small skeins arose.
They were weighed and wound into balls by hand and prepared for hand knitting. This picture captures the colours best, I think.
There was knitting on public transport.
there was knitting on the road to Warrnambool.
There was knitting on the way back.
And finally… on a day so overcast as to leach colour from the knitting:
There were socks long enough to go all the way to the top of a gumboot (wellington, galosh) on a chilly morning feeding donkeys. These socks are bound for a lovely friend who keeps a small farm with a lot of chickens and some rescue donkeys. She had some specific requirements! She wasn’t the least bit concerned about socks that would not be silky soft.
On top of the 3 ply, Suffolk yarn with high twist (and on the thick side for socks), I reinforced heels and toes with silk/cotton thread. I dyed some in eucalyptus but underestimated how much I was going to need. When I ran out while on the road (to dye camp!) I wasn’t prepared to stop.
I think the reality about these socks is that they have been knit at a dense gauge that will hopefully result in long wear even in a gumboot, but it is not very stretchy!
In not-so-recent dye baths, I included a wool scarf for a friend.
I love the way it turned out. I hope she will too. I bundled up E Scoparia leaves and some windfalls from a tree I think might be E Nicholii. It branches (what I mean is it that it has been brutally pruned) very high so these windfalls gave me leaves to try that I otherwise could never reach.
Love the string resist marks…
Then I returned to the E Cladocalyx bark I harvested weeks back which has been steeping.
Calico mordanted in soy and lots of clamping was the choice of the day.
The wet fabric next day (I know, patience is the dyer’s friend, but my friend was out for the day).
I do especially love the buds!
The overall effect… suggesting my fold-and-clamp technique may require more practice!
I’ve been puttering along on a number of different projects over the last few weeks… and lest this sounds unusual in some way, that is probably the way life goes most of the time around here! I returned to cold dyeing roving after retrieving my last spectacular failure. For good measure, I also dyed some local mohair locks. I am planning toward a textured yarn spinning workshop and I’m determined to go as close as I can to a local supply of materials for the participants.
We’ve had Ikea here for long enough that the op shops of the city now turn up these fantastic wool drying apparatuses. One came with a small supply of plastic animals. This time, just when I thought I had found them all, a small plastic dalmatian dropped out. Hopefully the child whose toys left home this way is not grieving and bereft!
This time, the merino braids turned out better than I had hoped. Perhaps I am slowly acquiring a better sense of colour. Those with a red base (at the bottom of the picture) were the ones I felt most tentative about, but I like them best of all.
The mohair is ready to have seed heads picked out of it and to become part of some textured batts for corespinning and other good times. Meanwhile, I have been preparing for a natural dyeing workshop focusing on eucalypts. Again, I need to provide materials, so I’ve been laying in what I need. It’s the season for bark collection so I have been touring the neighbourhood with my trusty bike trailer and a chook feed sack, pulling over if I’m passing in the car, or wandering out with a bucket, whichever may be appropriate to the day and location of the tree. In short, I am keeping the E Scoparia bark that is falling to the ground from being blown away, tidied up by others or crushed on the road. I have almost 3 sacks full so far. Seeing the bark shedding has allowed me to run test dye pots on a few trees I had been unsure of with more confidence. I’ve found several more specimens in the local area. Meantime, I have been mordanting fibres (wool with alum on the right) and continuing to convert my sow’s ear fibre into slipper-suitable yarn (left) as I knit up what has already been spun. I think that particular batch of unlovely spinning may finally be over. Two pairs of slippers are knit, one to go.
I’ve been converting milk bottles into sample cards, writing up notes and assessing the state of the Guild’s dye room. Today, I’ve got soybeans soaking ready to mordant cotton for the workshop. It has me wanting to dye…