Sunday, 26 May 2013

Foraging for colour.....

For part of the display we (the SpinDyeWeavers) put on for demonstrations a friend and I have been working on samples of English Sheep Breeds and already have really nice selection (will post pictures after the Easton Arts Trail June 15-16th) of fleece, spun and knitted yarn.  Yes I know this has been done before but not by us!

In the same theme and in response to many questions about dyed fleece and yarns I have decided to make up a similar display of natural dyed samples - again I have done a braid of fleece, spun and knitted yarn.  For this I have been using some Cotswold fleece that had being lingering in the stash for some time and I am really please with the way things are turning out...

First off, was cochineal.  For this I duly pounded the dried beetles in a plastic bag using a rolling pin, poured boiling water over the beetles and allowed to steep over night.  The next day I simmered the mixture gently for around an hour - and the result was a deep pink liquor.  For this experiment I mordant three 50grams Cotswold top with Alum and Cream of Tartar and one was dyed using the cochineal liquor, no modifier and the braid on the right is the result.

The next one I modified with a copper solution and that is the middle braid and the final one I modified with citric acid and that's the braid on the left......... three very different colours from one dye pot!

Having been bitten by the natural dyeing bug I was on the look out for another project.  Onion skins, well to be precise shallot skins - 1 kilo for pickling and about 50grams of skins for me.  Again an Alum mordant (on the right) and one modified with copper (on the left)

Jenny Dean's book of Natural Dyeing suggests nettles, and there were loads of nettles by the entrance to the Caravan Site we stayed on at Tredegar House in Newport.  So we harvested a bag of nettle tips and as soon as we arrived home on Tuesday a big bucket of nettles was steeping, and the fibre was mordant with Alum, in preparation for a dyeing session on Wednesday.

This is the resulting colours from left to right - no modifier just nettle dyed, modified with copper, modified with iron and because there was still dye stuff a braid of nettle and citric acid which actually has more colour than the photo shows. The nettles are now steeping in rain water (natural bugs) to make a liquid feed for the garden - nothing goes to waste in Chez Sassy.....

While on a food shop I casually slipped a carton of blackberries into the trolley - not for eating, but just to see what colours I could get with them - a really subtle pale almost lavender, no modifier and just a Alum mordant.

Now I have run out of suitable yarn - not that I really don't have any fibre you understand, but I had made the decision to use an English breed not Merino or fancy blends, so a kilo of Cheviot will be winging its way from the lovely people at World of Wool after the Bank Holiday, so until then I shall have content myself with spinning and knitting up samples.

But I am already saving coffee grains and have persuaded Mr S that a Red Cabbage should be an the shopping list for next week - apparently you can get amazing colours from the humble brassica!

Fingers crossed I may actually get my Bliss Tuesday - a second wheel has been dispatched..........  and just for tempters........... there is another wheel that has long been on my WOOT list that will coming home very soon!

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