Thursday, November 20, 2014


 This is the time of year I find myself knitting and knitting and knitting for craft shows. My goal is to have ten pairs of fingerless gloves on my table, among other things like hats and spinning kits and yarn. I just finished these gloves last night. They're extra long and all handspun. I'm tempted to keep them for myself, I like them so much. But then I'd have to make one more pair to meet my self-imposed quota. Meh.
 I decided to try and overwiner our tuscan blue rosemary. I'm not sure if it could have hacked the minus whatever-it-gets-to-here nights. It's flowering now and that generally makes me wonder if I'm making it happy or stressing out so bad that its making itself pretty in a desperate attempt at reproducing before it dies on me. I might try cutting it back a bit and making starts from the cuttings. I got the idea from this Juniper Moon Farms blog post.

 I've been making time to play with natural dyes lately, too. I'm brushing up because I'm teaching a yarn dyeing workshop with the Living Arts School on December 7th. The focus is on locally available dyestuffs, plants you could find growing wild plus a few you could easily incorporate in your own garden here in Colorado. I'll have a mix of prepared and whole plants and go over the various ways to tweak a dye bath to get more than one color/shade from each plant.

By way of example, here are some examples of a few of the dyes we'll be playing with. The browns are from black walnut hulls gathered in Wash Park in Denver. From left to right its been dyed onto tussah silk, hemp and alpaca. The pink(hemp) and orange(silk) are from the same bath of safflower petals. You can get a yellow from the same dye pot, too. The nice thing about safflower is that you can do the whole process cold.

This is from an indigo vat I've stashed in a corner by the stove. The fiber is silk that has been sitting in situ as the vat ferments and the gray-blue color has touches of red where the madder root took hold of the fiber, too. It's back in the vat and hopefully it'll get blue-er. I like the storm cloud quality of this stage too, though. The blue we will explore in the class will be more traditional, from woad and should produce a truer blue than this one.

 The jar is full of alkanet root that's been soaking in some Everclear that I found in the cupboard when we moved in. Alkanet isn't water soluble but alcohol will draw it out and create a deep purple/red color. This one doesn't exactly fit into the "local" rubric, but I'll probably bring some to the class anyway in case someone wants to try it. It gets used in natural cosmetics commercially and grows wild in Europe. It's a lot harder to find seeds for it here but I've seen them on Etsy now and again. This batch is currently evaporating out as I add snow to it so I can dye fiber in it without turning it into alkanet flambe.

No comments: