While I was on holiday, I finished sewing a batch of needle books made from scraps of blanket dyed with various plants. Now they are waiting to become part of mending kits!
Tag Archives: coreopsis flowers
In another radical transformation of vintage woolen blanket, I (more or less) followed the instructions for the Flowers at My Fingertips hussif/sewing kit from Christine Vejar’s The Modern Natural Dyer. You can have a sense of what she did (and some pictures of her hussif) by following this link. Above are prints from maroon coreopsis flowers I had in the garden at the time I was dyeing. I bought the plant at the Seed Freedom Festival and have just loved it. It is not enjoying winter though.
These are prunus leaves from a neighbourhood tree. I cut binding from some linen pants that entered their second life some time ago.
Some parts of the binding went more smoothly than others, but in the end the edge was reasonably neat.
So now I have a sewing toolkit that rolls up. I really just wanted to make this pattern and try the dyeing strategy out, at a time of year when I had African marigolds, Mexican marigolds, Alyogyne Huegelii flowers, salvias and more to try out, and then realised that I also had something close enough to woolen flannel to try them on. I’ll figure out where it will go to live later!
I have been very much enjoying adding to India Flint’s Wandercards.
One of my beloved friends said something about them that made me think she might like a set of her own. Well, they won’t be a set of India’s lovely cards, but nevertheless, a set of plant dyed cards with quotes that might help her to keep her heart full and her courage blazing through tough times.
I wish I could make cards as beautiful as those India selected,–beautiful paper with rounded corners and such–but I decided to embrace the imperfection and do what I could.
Then there was the question of a suitable bag. I thought I’d make one, but then I realised I already had a perfect bag. Here I am on a train, embroidering on it and listening to an audio book. Audio books and podcasts make public transport so pleasurable!
And so, a set of cards and a little bag for them to live in, packaged up and ready to send to their new home! I know my friend will add quotes from her favourite poets and sources of inspiration.
I have been so excited by my recent colour knitting success that I have been moved to dye more shades and spin with the intention of colour knitting. Not just spinning up all kinds of stuff and then deciding to use it in stranded colourwork on a whim. Though that turned out remarkably well, and the errant graph book with the knobby club rush design in it magically appeared on the weekend, nestled among sheet music (my filing clearly needs more work–I had been looking for it in the dyeing and knitting collections–what was I thinking)!
I’ve been cold mordanting Viola’s fleece with alum in preparation. She is a white/silver grey/dark grey sheep, and that will give me room for a bit of heathery loveliness, I think. These big jars were being thrown out at the Guild and this seems a decent use for them. Some BFL/silk sock yarn has been getting the same cold mordant treatment, because why not?
I had quite a lot of coreopsis flowers, because my mother is such a generous woman, she saves her dead flowers for me. And in case anyone ever wondered where my thrifty ways come from, these flowers were lovingly collected as they wilted and then dried–and then delivered in paper bags previously containing mushrooms and purchases from the newsagent, and in a reused cardboard box that was lined with two layers of pre-loved Christmas wrapping paper. Bless her heart, my Mum is a treasure.
There were also osage orange shavings that had been left at the Guild. Many years old, to judge by the packaging. At times such as this, Jenny Dean is my trusted Guide. So I followed her instructions from Wild Colour as best I could. It’s an interesting thing, this dyeing with only me there in body, but with a little posse of imaginary friends about me, some of whom I’ve never met! Jenny says osage orange can give more dye on a later extraction and India would no doubt agree on principle (I have been rereading Eco Colour)… so with the three of us in agreement on that, I planned an exhaust bath from the beginning and in due course, decided to honour Mum’s collection by tossing that in too…
After the first stage of heating, I filtered out the dyestuffs through an old nylon stocking (also deposited at the Guild in quantity–more of my imaginary friends present on this occasion in tangible and intangible ways!)
And in went the fibres. They had a nice long wait in the dye baths after the heating stage was over.
The sock yarn took the dye with alacrity–that golden yellow is rather lovely, I think–I am planning to overdye with indigo, but this yellow is glorious as it is. I thought I remembered the coreopsis being a more golden yellow and the osage orange being a colder shade, but not this time. They look remarkably similar.
The exhaust bath made use of the stocking too… and out came some paler but still yellow fleece. My fingers are itching but the day job calls… and there has been yet more knitting…
Before the end of the year, we had a trip to Melbourne and I finally finished some socks I’ve been carrying around for quite a while. the triumphant moment when I grafted them occurred in a wonderful tea house our niece took us to. She humours me as much as her aunt, so I recorded the moment for posterity (that would really mean, your viewing pleasure).
I should admit that I don’t drink tea, so was very surprised to find myself relishing an iced peppermint and liquorice tea. It was a lovely afternoon. I have also finished the last of 2014’s (or was it 2013’s?) indigo dyed wool. The last was polwarth. I seem to recall I ran out of patience, which is always bad when you are handling wet wool, worse with fine wool, and possible only made still worse if also dealing with indigo. Let me further confess, some felting resulted, which will not surprise other spinners. This was the last of it, and I decided to just card it up and spin it lumps and all. I have been drawing batts through a diz to make a roving.
Rolled up roving:
Spinning in progress, including lumps as promised! I feel sure there are more felted slippers in my future…
So, here they are. The last 3 skeins… all different shades, some first dyed with coreopsis or osage orange, and some involving quite a bit better spinning and plying than others!
I have decided to branch out from the eucalyptus based palette of ochre–caramel–tan–orange–red–maroon I have been so focused on for the last while and plan toward an indigo vat. Don’t you love these bold statements?
I still love the eucalypt colours: here, a small quantity of alpaca passing through various stages of preparation. Picked, dyed locks;
Partially carded batt;
and, finally, yarn–pictured in the dyer’s chamomile patch.
I have decided to try for yellow–green–blue transitions, which will necessarily begin with yellow. I had coreopsis flowers my mother saved me one summer, as she deadheaded her plants. This collection of flower heads speak to me of her love and her fine qualities as a gardener and a person who loves to share. I had reservations about the colour I would get from them, as some had gone mouldy. Her -plants are just so prolific–the stack of wilted heads had trapped enough moisture to create mould.
I also had a little remaining quantity of osage orange shavings of antiquity, gifted to me from the Guild.
I prepared them both for the dyebath, but have to say my tea ball was not a good enough receptacle to retain the osage orange. I not only sieved the dye vat before adding wool (thank goodness I remembered to do this as I tackled it one night when the amount of sawdust in the vat was not as obvious as in the clear light of day) but also placed the whole tea ball in another fine cloth bag before running an exhaust bath.
Even after the first bath of each dye, there was a lot of colour left, so I ran an exhaust bath and dyed a total of about 800g of white corriedale. I was especially impressed with the amount of colour and the wonderful smell of the coreopsis bath. I need not have worried about the mould. Here is the coreopsis bath between dyeings.
The resulting yellows are lovely. On the left, coreopsis bath 1, then coreopsis bath 2, osage orange bath 1 and osage orange bath 2. The coreopsis yellows are quite buttery and golden and the osage orange colours are a little more lemony. And, there is further evidence that grass seeds and other vegetable matter take dyes quite well! Now, to build up my courage for the indigo stage and some greens and blues.