Friday, 4 November 2016
I am always trying out new ideas and this is the latest. I have been asked to produce a 'flecked' yarn and after a few different ideas this is the best I can do. This is natural black Zwartbles wool and the coloured batts are hand dyed silk noil. I dyed the silk in a steamer a bright turquoise and pale brown. It is difficult to get the dye to saturate the silk because the silk is like a blop of papier mache. When it was dry I then carded it several times to separate the fibres.
Then carded it into the Zwartbles fibre to make this yarn.
Hopefully I will improve it with practice.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
Carding wool is a very dusty job and when I am doing it I have to wear a substantial face mask to protect me from the dust and tiny wool fibres that are in the air. I feel like someone doing a dangerous scientific experiment and all I am working with is wool!
This afternoon the weather was perfect for doing a few hours in the garden with just enough of a breeze to blow the dust away and not too much so my wool was not flying around the garden.
This is a lovely grey fleece that I got from a farmer in Skreen. It is so clean and soft it is a pleasure to work with. Some of it is heading to Germany next week.
Before I worked with this fleece I carded some Alpaca, Alpaca is so dusty to work with. At the moment I am carding a black fleece and I think that this Alpaca was out in a shower and then had a dust bath before she was shorn the fleece is so dusty that it is almost brown rather than black until I wash it after spinning.
Monday, 10 October 2016
A custom order for some B.F.L. locks in shades of blue and purple.
This fleece is one that a local farmer had thrown in the back of his shed. He thought it was useless but it is perfect for locks as they are very fine and tightly curled. It is very dirty but washes out fairly well. The tight, fine curls are almost impossible to process to spin with as they knot up into tiny balls but it is lovely as locks. They separate out easily but I only sell like this as I do not want to spoil the lock definition.
I dye them in lots of about 50 to 60 grams
Monday, 3 October 2016
Friday, 16 September 2016
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