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Friday, 16 September 2016

Indigo from Woad

The story stared last spring when my very good friend Henneke handed me some Woad seedlings. I had not got a clue what colours I could get.  My husband planted them out in our tunnel and with luck beside a heap of manure.  I have now discovered that woad needs very fertile soil to produce Indigo.
Fast forward to a about a month ago when I decided that something must be done with these plants.
I got out all my books and read through my options,  it was all so complicated with temperatures and pH and also I needed something called Spectralite.  Where would I get it?  I had everybody asked and then I got a message that I could buy it from a company that sells natural dyeing equipment.  Why did I not think of that myself??  So I ordered it and some soda ash.
Monday was the day set aside.
First,  choose which book to go by, so I chose the simplest and one that needed the least equipment.
Most important, they all said the woad must be picked and used as soon as possible.  Even then you can not be guaranteed any Indigo.
Rain water, no problem that morning, the saucepan was flowing over in ten minutes.
On with the pan to boil while the woad was washed and shredded and in two other saucepans.  What do they say about a watched pot?  Well it would not boil.  I am hopeless at waiting and how many projects have I spoiled by rushing.  In the end I took the chance and poured the water over the leaves and left them for 30 minutes.  I had them on the lowest heat that my stove can do as the water was NOT boiling.   Strained the leaves squeezed the last of the dye out of them.
Now I added some dissolved Soda Ash until the water turned green.  It needed much more than I expected. I gather this is a pH of about 9.  I then whisked the mixture with a electric hand whisk for 15 minutes.  The foam was blue to start with and then gradually became yellow.  Indigo was there!!
Now I placed the pan back on the cooker which I had set at 50 centigrade and heated it up for a few minutes and then sprinkled a large teaspoon of spectralite over the top and left it to stand for 15 minutes
Last stage,  I lowered the wet wool carefully into the pan trying not to disturb the surface.  Left it for 20 minutes.  It remained yellow in the pan but as I lifted out it turned blue.  The Magic of Indigo.  Contrary to what I had heard my kitchen is not dyed blue but the smell was not that nice

Friday, 26 August 2016

Woodland Witches

I am having fun making these felted figures.   A mixture of needle felt and wet felt and my wool fibre that I sell for felting works really well as it can be needle felted easily after wet felting.  These figures are about 12 inches tall

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Wet Felted Rug

This is not part of a dead animal,  it is my first attempt at felting a fleece to make a rug.  I tried to get some information on how to do it but could not find much.   So I decided to have a go anyway.  It took me over a day of felting and pummelling,  even walking on it in my bare feet.  I was so stiff when I had finished I could hardly move!! I am sure I will find some use for it and I hope it doesn't fall apart

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Jacob Yarn drying on the line ready to go to The Crafter's Basket

The first of this lovely fleece from Sara of Woodville farm in Sligo.  Spun and drying on the line to set the spin.  I take the fleece as it comes to me from the basket,  this gives each skein a very different proportion of black to white.  A lovely soft fleece which I have spun woollen. The first of this fleece is in The Crafter's Basket, Cliffoney, Co. Sligo and I am working on the rest.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Blue Faced Leicester Locks

I just missed the main shearing of the farmer's sheep that has a flock of pedigree BFL and the bags had already gone to the collection point and were mixed with hundreds of other bags,  but they found a few fleeces and one man had some rams that were not shorn so gradually I managed to get some of this amazing fleece.   Do I love it or do I hate it??  When I dye some locks like these I love it, they will look wonderful felted into a anything.  Lots of different sizes of locks to suit so many projects,  but when I am sitting teasing out the tiny locks so that I can spin it I am not so in love.  I know it will spin to make the softest of yarn but it is tedious to prepare.  All in all I have only ended up with 2 small bags so it will not last long.  I will find it hard to part with these locks but I will have more to follow.  Dyed using food dye in the microwave,  so simple,  if it goes right!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Landes de Britagne, Mouton de Britagne

The first of the fleece off the spinning wheel.  It is a very greasy wool and not that easy to spin as it is glued together.  I have given it a gentle wash while setting the spin and this has removed some lanolin but it will still knit up an old fashioned waterproof garment.  It is soft to handle and I think will knit really nicely.  I certainly will suggest that is used by those wishing to knit waterproof hats

Friday, 3 June 2016

landes de Britagne

I collected this fleece during the week from Co. Down.  I am so far delighted with it and the first of it is in the ferment bath.  This breed was imported from France and there are very few in the country.  They come either black or white but I only have the white fleece.  The sheep are a delight,  tiny only 60cms high and if I had a piece of land they would have been in the back of the car along with the fleece.
The staple length is longer than seen here and it appears to be free of kemp and have a soft handle.  Such fun to have something that is different to play with and hopefully sell as well