The latest tuffsocks are done. I am spending hours on Zoom at present and it’s great knitting time. I’ve knit these for India Flint, and I had to giggle when I was knitting these while watching one of her online classes, some weeks back. She has a new class all about string making, one of my pleasures in life (and things to do with string). For those who can afford an online class–India is one of the enormous number of folk losing their work at this time and I am sure she would appreciate your support. If you read this blog there is an excellent chance you would love her classes. For those also facing loss of income, or just not able to afford it–there are some lovely free items at the link above too, including a grounding meditation you might enjoy if it’s not too calm at your place right now.
Here they are, finished.
Kangaroo Island “black” merino lamb, dyed with eucalyptus scoparia. And the by-now familiar calf shaping move for inside-boot wear.
The reinforced heel. Silk and cotton blend thread for reinforcement.
Feet knit with Ryeland from Victoria, dyed with walnut hulls. Why did I not reinforce the toe? Mysteries in sock knitting (in other words–I have no idea what I was thinking)! There were a LOT of walnuts from friends who have moved to a house with a huge, beautiful tree. This is the result of my dyeing effort.
Here’s hoping they will warm and cheer India in the winter that is coming under such complicated circumstances.
Are you ready to think about something else? I recommend the EarthHand Gleaners’ Society. They have an entire YouTube channel of awesomeness and storytelling from Canada. The most recent post is Sharon Kallis pitching their central question: ‘how can we be makers without first being consumers?’ and beginning a project of engaging with people who can’t leave home, around what they can make with things that are already in their homes and gardens. It’s quite delightful! She is asking for people to be in touch and tell her what they have to work with so she can help people problem solve what they might like to make. The rest of the channel is full of beautifully produced little films. This one is Sharon Kallis using what she has in her own home and creating her own video, so it has a lovely DIY vibe that is quite different. Maybe you’d like to participate? Her book is just so wonderful, I think this will be fun and include small people and parents beautifully.
Over a recent long weekend, I managed to do quite a lot of dyeing and some fibre processing. There was mordanting of cellulose fabrics with soybeans.
I finally decided to stop worrying about the fact that my walnuts (gathered from under trees at my workplace) were whole and having dried, I was not going to be able to separate husk from nut (where no rat had done this for me). I just soaked them whole and then dyed with them.
I clamped and dyed. This eucalyptus print + walnut bath made me happy! Here it is still wet (you can see it still clamped above if you look closely).
I flick carded Suffolk locks. Some had staining–see that yellow streak? I just decided I wasn’t prepared to waste indigo on vegetable matter and contaminate my vat. And the Suffolk is so felting resistant I thought it would be fine flicked first and dyed after 9and it was).
I used some of Tarla Elward’s wonderful Australian grown Indigo for the first time and used henna as the source of antioxidants, following Michel Garcia’s method.
I’d been concerned about how to grind up the block indigo but I had found a mortar and pestle since dye camp and put it to use. So much fun, Such a great weekend.
I am just delighted with the indigo colours on this wool, and even more delighted that I managed to revive my indigo vat, last used before dye camp a few months ago. Clearly, I learned something from the wonderful Jenai at dye camp. Indigo achievement unlocked! Blue socks one step closer.
One of my plants wilted and fell over for no obvious reason, so I cut it out and set it to dry. I wondered if something has nibbled on its roots from below ground. Some days later I went out and found that the rest of the plant had died. This time it is obvious that the main root has been chewed on or rotted away. Curious. I followed Jenny Dean’s instructions (more or less…) and due to lack of time, left the dye bath to sit for some days.
Mum saved me her purple fountain grass–a whole wheelbarrow load. I saw a post on Ravelry where a lovely green came from this plant just about when she was planning to cut hers back. This was exciting! For me, however–it gave only a fawn colour. Sadly!
Here is the walnut dye on the left and the fountain grass on the right. It is a little more yellow-brown in life, but nothing exciting. It went into the walnut exhaust.
I now have two shades of brown Suffolk and some weld-yellow crossbred fleece ready to join a future colour knitting project. May the rinsing begin!
When these walnut hulls came home from the Guild hall with me, who knows how long they had been stored? I can only give an educated guess to the time involved in separating them from the walnuts… or the year in which that might have happened. In the meantime, insects had become involved… so I put them in water and put a lid on and left them to steep in mid to late May 2014. As you may remember, I decided I should honour the effort involved in all that dye gathering and storage… and so over a month later, a dye vat emerged…
The stinkiness of which was unholy. It may become a legend in my Guild. But not in a good way! The dye that emerged was inky and impressive. I rather wish I had saved some to try using it as ink, but in all honesty I didn’t have that thought on the day… my nostrils said ‘begone!’. The dark brown skeins in the foreground are walnut.
And here is my sample card.
Interestingly, the walnut dyes, together with every dye I have tried on both hot and cold processed mordants so far, show cold processed alum as the most obviously effective mordant, with hot processed alum coming second. The cold processed sample is noticeably darker than all other samples. My eye cannot detect a difference between the hot and cold processed rhubarb leaf mordant samples. In this case, I expected that since I used an overwhelming quantity of rhubarb leaf, achieving a dye effect and not just a mordanting… that these samples would be a stronger shade of brown. I can’t detect a difference between the rhubarb leaf mordanted samples and the no mordant sample. So far, I have to concur (sadly) with Pia at Colour Cottage in finding that rhubarb leaf is not terribly effective as a mordant, at least in the ways I have applied and used it. I have enough mordanted yarn to continue experimenting for some time to come…