Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Several years ago I bought a big mill end skein of lace weight merino that turned out to take plant dyes well.I'm working on collecting as many colors as I can. The nice thing is that I can pursue my dye experiments on a much smaller scale. I've just started on some fermented dye, a technique that requires no mordant or heat. The dye material is fermented for at least a week, then strained off and divided into an acidic bath and an alkaline bath by adding vinegar or ammonia to change the ph. The wool is dyed with the acidic bath first, dried, and then re-wet and put into the alkaline bath. My first attempt is making use of some wild muscadine grapes that, not surprisingly, smelled like wine after a week fermenting on our warm front porch.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Boy, oh boy, did I get the rich brown I was hoping for! To be honest, this picture looks just a little pumped up on my screen but not by much on the brown. The orange yarn was dyed with pokeberries. I wasn't as attentive as I should have been with the pokeberries and the dye got too hot, bringing out the tanins, so no pink. I like it anyway. The walnut brown could have done with more stirring for an even color. Parts of the skein sat in the concentrated sludge at the bottom of the pot and became very dark. I'm just going to claim that I meant to do that to add more interest. This morning I made a paste out of some more walnut hulls (minus the skins) by mashing and cooking them with salt. The plan is to paint or print on fabric with it. If you are new to black walnut dye, please heed all the warnings about how deeply it will stain just about anything. My rubber glove had a hole in one finger and even though I was careful, I have a "suntanned" fingertip now.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
I've been out for more maple leafed viburnum berries. About two cups of berries was enough to dye three skeins of deep blue, one medium blue and one light blue. Interestingly, there was a color shift between the medium blue skein and the light blue one. The lighter one went a bit more turquoise in tone. The colors all look well together, it's subtle. I combined the leftover viburnum bath with some leftover goldenrod to see if it would make a green, which it did but it was very washed out. So I added some new berries and fresh goldenrod blossoms. The viburnum was pretty strong so I dumped in some leftover autumn olive leaf gold. The end result was a good grassy green. I'd still like to get a really deep brown so I'll be going out to look for black walnuts and whatever else looks interesting. That's my first sock from the plant dyed colors. I had a very soggy outdoor craft show Sunday and was glad to have my knitting with me. The down side is that my right hand is sore from knitting too much in one go. I hate to purl and don't like ribbing anyway so I started the top with some crochet. The heel is made eastern style by knitting in the opening for the heel with waste yarn then continuing the foot a bit. Then I went back, picked up the stitches above and below the waste yarn, removed it and knit the heel. I'm eager to work on the second sock but it will have to wait. When the socks are done, it will be time for some fair isle mittens. Next year I'm going to get skeins of the lighter weight sock yarn to dye. Too much fun!
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
As you can see, the silk neckties have worked their way into my hats. It was time to revisit the Hat For A Towering Intellect with the improved skill set I've developed. This is really fun! I used to give each hat a title and a fun story tag back when they were at Zoe & Floyd, the much missed gallery that used to be in Seymour CT. But doing shows and general business led me to drop that. I think it's time to return to tagging the hats and to the level of carefree craziness I had at that time. There's an odd synergy between playful and serious. That's what I'm going for.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Who can resist the luxurious color and pattern of silk neckties? Not me. A while back I started making some scarves out of them and now they have worked their way into my hats. The silk can be very slippery to cut and sew accurately so I had to come up with some tricks to tame it. Light weight iron on interfacing is a big help when you need to maintain a crisp shape. Many projects use the neckties intact but if you take them apart you'll have lots more to work with. Think of them as a fabric source. Because they are cut on the bias, neckties make great bias tape for edging things. The down side is that the grain is usually distorted from the weight of the wider ends. It's sneaky - you can draw a circle on the fabric and it will be a circle. As soon as it's cut out it turns into an oval. The worst offenders are the narrower sections in the center of the tie. The ends are much less apt to distort. Oh, and save the long silk thread that was hand sewn up the back - it usually pulls out in one piece and is great for hand sewing. I normally don't bother with polyester ties, especially the printed designs. They melt when ironed, snag easily leaving a white line through the pattern and are a general bother to sew. But if you find a woven polyester or acetate tie in a great pattern, it can be worth trying. Just be very cautious when ironing. That crazy green zig zag tie was worth the extra trouble and it worked into a cool hat. I also finally bit the bullet and am lining all my new hats so anyone can wear them. It makes for a better product and I just wasn't getting around to trying anything with non wool sweaters. Still, there are so many pretty ramie/cotton sweaters in the thrift shops that I may end up using them, just not for hats. The cut edges would need to be well finished.