March 24, 2013 · 5:11 pm
Last year I went to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show with a friend. We had a great time, and I spent plenty! Just recently I decided to spin some of the prepared fibre I bought there. This is grey merino/llama/silk dyed by the Thylacine in Evandale. It was luscious to spin and inspired me to get back to dyeing over grey fleece. I chain-plied it to maintain distinct colours.
I bought some Raxor batts: Corriedale x English Leicester and Blue-faced Leicester in ‘Before dawn’. Clearly also from my grey period. I core spun these over a crossbred grey wool core. The pink skein is chain plied merino/bamboo dyed ‘berry lush’ from Kathys Fibres. All a delight to spin.
February 14, 2013 · 12:26 pm
The second in my little series of workshops at the Guild went really well. There was yarn, fleece and roving dyeing. Brown, orange, almost-red and maroon from E Scoparia (bark and leaves) and E Cinerea leaves, yellow from silky oak (Grevillea Robusta) using Ida Grae’s recipe from Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, and the ever-astonishing purple from red sanderswood with alum. I again used Jenny Dean’s method from Wild Colour and still got nothing like the oranges she suggests are likely.
Mysterious outcomes in natural dyeing are not all that uncommon (at least for me!), as the number of variables is so huge. But this one is out of the box–purple!? Since my last post on the subject, Jenny Dean has very generously been in touch with her thoughts on the matter. She suggests this purple could be the result of alkalinity (but given I made no attempt to generate an alkaline bath, it seems unlikely it was seriously alkaline).
Or–and I agree with her that this is much more likely, even though I used 4 different jars/packs labelled “sanderswood”–perhaps the dyestuff was never sanderswood to begin with. The colour is very, very like the logwood results I have had, just about indistinguishable. I am still not complaining about the result–I love purple and so did the participants. I was hoping for purple on this occasion, as I have no more logwood–that I know to be logwood. Perhaps there was a time in the past when a batch of “sanderswood” came to our Guild or a supplier nearby and all the different jars I’ve used ultimately can be traced back to the same mislabelled supply. This would fit with my experience of Eucalypts… it is much more likely that I have misidentified my tree than that the dye bath is giving a completely different colour. Variation to some extent, however, is completely expected.
Here is the “sanderswood” just after I poured boiling water over it–Jenny says this looks like a logwood bath to her. I bow to her much more extensive experience and wisdom, without hesitation.
I have the biggest chips in a little zippered mesh pouch that must once have held toiletries. The smallest chips/splinters are in something that looks just like a giant tea ball. I saw it for sale in a Vietnamese grocery where I was investing in greens, seaweed and soy products and immediately saw its possibilities. The woman who sold it to me had an eye-popping moment (evidently she hasn’t sold one to an Anglo before), and asked me what I was planning to do with it. I love those moments in Asian groceries, because once I’ve been ask the question and given my (admittedly bizarre) response, I can ask about the ordinary use of the device or food in question. This one is usually used to contain whole spices when making a big pot of stock or soup. This point was helpfully illustrated by a packet of soup seasonings–star anise and cinnamon and coriander seed were some of the spices I could identify right away.
People tried out India Flint‘s eco-print technique on cotton, wool prefelt and silk. I hope she will get some extra book sales as a result (if you’d like to acquire her books, click on the link to her blog and look for the option to buy them postage free in the left hand sidebar).
There were biscuits and icy poles and lots of chat. I demonstrated soy mordanting and black bean dyeing. And while we were at the Guild and using the copper, which is such a generously sized vessel by comparison with my dye pots, I leaf printed some significant lengths of fabric that I brought to the workshop bundled up and ready to go. The copper really is copper lined, but I could detect no obvious impact on the colours. Seedy silk noil:
Wool prefelt… the degree of detail is fantastic. This is destined for felting experimentation by a dear friend who generously assisted me at the workshop. Her practical help, support, constant grace and good cheer made things go so smoothly. I also decided to start some processes before participants arrived, which I didn’t do at the previous workshop. I think that helped. But it was a fabulous group of people too.
And finally, silk/hemp blend, destined to be made into a shirt (by me, so it may take a while). I am delighted with how it turned out, after many months of putting off the day.
Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing
Tagged as brown, cotton, dyeing, E Cinerea, E Scoparia, eucalyptus, for the love of the Guild, generosity, Grevillea Robusta, Ida Grae, India Flint, Jenny Dean, logwood, orange again, purple!, red, red sanderswood, roving, silk, user error, wool, yarn, yellow
February 5, 2013 · 3:12 pm
When I was preparing for the natural dyeing workshop I ran recently, I mordanted a lot of Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn as well as some handspun in small skeins–25g or less. Having all those small skeins of different colours in alpaca and wool and mohair, activated my imagination. Eventually it led to this…
These are madder-tipped, logwood-stemmed crocheted coral thingummies, inspired by Loani Prior’s ‘coral punk’. When I say ‘inspired by’, let me confess. I bought her beautifully designed and entertaining book Really Wild Tea Cosies with a Christmas book voucher I was given. So I had the pattern. But even though only one, basic, crochet stitch was involved, my crochet skills are decidedly remedial and I don’t happen to have a crochet instructor on tap.
I turned to Maggie Righetti’s book Crocheting in Plain English (I don’t have the new revised edition, needless to say). Apparently sometimes I just can’t believe what I am reading… or perhaps I just don’t understand on the first eight passes. I see students I teach with the same difficulties! By the time I had finished this tea cosy and started on the next, I’d managed to figure out that I wasn’t doing what Loani Prior must have believed was involved in the one stitch involved in her cosy. Luckily for me crocheting badly still produces a fabric of a sort. I also figured out that for me, improvising a knit version of the pot cover itself was going to beat freeform crocheting one as the pattern suggests with my inadequate skill set. So that’s what I did, and Loani Prior shouldn’t be held responsible for the outcome. I like it anyway.
It has highly entertained people who watched me crocheting coral at parties (as one does) as well as those who have seen the finished object, many of whom thought immediately of a sea anemone.
Let it be said that at present coral punk is not alone. Here is the present plain Jane of the tea cosy selection at our place: yellow from silky oak leaves and orange from eucalyptus–with the felted blobs spun into the yarn. Pattern improvised. Luckily, tea pots are just not that fussy about how you clothe them.
I’ve been branching out and using up some particularly strange art yarn spinning experiments. This next one is commercially dyed mohair with silk curricula cocoons spun onto it. Scratchy for a head, perfect for a teapot! I was surprised how many people liked the look of the ‘hat’ emerging as I knit this at a picnic, riffing off Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Cozy. Once again, that is to say, dispensing with the pattern when it became inconvenient. I guess the hat admirers hadn’t felt the yarn yet.
And for anyone who is wondering, I have continued to dye with the logwood exhaust from the dyeing workshop. I ran out of yarn for a while and dyed two, 200g lengths of merino roving. This morning I pulled out another 100g of superwash yarn. I think it might be just about done, and I only wish I had kept a record of the weight of fibre that has been dyed with what was a small quantity of logwood in the beginning! This weekend, the second in a series of two natural dyeing workshops. I’d better eat my crusts and get my beauty sleep in preparation.
Filed under Crochet, Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning, Uncategorized
Tagged as alpaca, dyeing, eucalyptus, for the love of the Guild, madder, mohair, orange again, parade of the daleks, purple!, red, roving, silk, tea cosy, user error, wool, yarn, yellow
January 26, 2013 · 5:46 pm
This week I ran a natural dyeing workshop for my Guild. It was exhausting but fun! I tried taking a picture inside the hall and my poor old camera wanted to use the flash–pretty useless. Between that and having a lot going on, I decided to forget taking photos. We ran lots of dye pots: E Scoparia bark, dried E Scoparia leaves (oranges), silky oak leaves (yellow), logwood from the abandoned/donated dyestuffs of the past stash (purple), black beans (not as blue as I hoped)… we mordanted with alum and with soy, there were leaf print experiments. We dyed silk, alpaca, wool, cotton; fleece, roving, yarn and fabric. Phew!
I came home with cooked bark and leaves and ground soybeans to compost, quite a bit of remaining pre-mordanted yarn, a bucket of black beans with yarn tucked into it, a bucket of homemade soymilk and the logwood bath. Can I just quietly mention how relieved I was when I got home without having sloshed a bucket over in the car?
I have run the logwood bath twice more so far. This is the second effort: superwash wool in the foreground, alpaca/wool blend in the middle, and greeny-grey-blue black bean dyed sock yarn at the back. I have some roving still soaking and rinsing after the third logwood bath, and I’m mordanting more fibre to go into a fourth bath right now. I wish that logwood was a sustainable local dyestuff. It is spectacular and straightforward, and purple is a great colour. I loved pouring boiling water on wood chips and getting purple water; dipping fibre into what became a brownish dyebath and pulling it out purple. But logwood isn’t local or sustainable, so I’m making the most intense use of the logwood that I have been given that I can figure out.
I hope that my forebears at the Guild who abandoned the logwood there or donated it to the Guild would be happy if they could see the excitement it provoked in the workshop. It’s possible that the former owners of this logwood are still coming to the Guild and will let me know what they think when word gets out of what we did in the dyeroom this week. I feel so blessed to be part of the Guild–fancy being part of an organisation that has a dye room!
Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing
Tagged as alpaca, dyeing, E Scoparia, eucalyptus, for the love of the Guild, orange again, purple!, roving, silk, think globally, wool, yarn
November 26, 2012 · 10:03 am
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…
Filed under Dye Plants, Fibre preparation, Spinning
Tagged as bark, dyeing, E Scoparia, for the love of the Guild, local trees, mohair, mordanting, neighbourhood dyeplants, roving, surprise!, think globally, wool
September 11, 2012 · 4:48 pm
This week the Royal Show started. The neighbourhood is full of cheerful people and cars. One strand of my bunting is gone… it looks for all the world as if someone decided to souvenir the best part! It has been completely removed. So I’d better make some more.
I spent some hours on my Guild’s stall, selling things made by members and showing people what spinning looks like. I took my spindle and some roving dyed with eucalyptus bark, but in the end when I was demonstrating I was on the Guild’s wheel spinning greasy fleece from a bag of locks. It was interesting to see how many people had some idea what was being done and wanted to show their children. It is always obvious that people from some parts of the world are much closer to a tradition of spinning in their country of origin than many Anglo-Australians. I had a great conversation about spinning in India with a couple of people who were surprised I knew what a Charka was… and I am in awe of anyone who can draft with one hand! Last year, someone took my picture drop spindling because he thought there was no way his mother in Iran would ever believe a white woman in Australia could do this, without a picture. I heard lots of stories of mothers and grandmothers who were/are spinners, and we joined up a few new members, too.
And, I decided to begin on my tea cosy project. I have spun a lot of art yarn in the last year and some of it is very bulky. I think tea cosies would be perfect and I’ve already knit one, which went home with a visitor who thought it was too cute! That is the kind of home knitting should go to… I have four teapots I’ve bought second hand. I decided to start with the smallest one and work up! This tea cosy bears some relationship to the Fun and Fast tea cozy by Funhouse Fibers, but I’ll have to claim responsibility for its defects as, while I’ve used the central concept… I haven’t exactly followed the pattern… there just wasn’t enough yarn in my smallest skein, and this teapot is a tiddler. The yarn is corespun, and contains merino I dyed with Earth Palette dyes, tencel and mohair locks.