Cherry Bomb Baby

I live in a pile of bricks with a fire puter-outer, a Halloween enthusiast and a pretend lemur, who sometimes admits to being my second son. I have a kitchen for flowers. I know all the lyrics to the Spiderman theme song and (am forced to) sing it everyday. I cook with color. This was a blog mostly about yarn spinning and natural dyeing. Now, it is fair to say, it lacks direction entirely.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Natural Dye Class Results

I took a natural dye class at Deep Color Studio, my favorite place on earth, and these were my results from the April class. Above is the indigo and overdyed indigo we did. We handpainted one roving, (top left) and I didn't particularly like how mine came out, so I overdyed it. I overdyed my yellow that was dyed with fustic. I don't think I used enough to make a really bright yellow so who knows how this supposed green will come out when I finally wash these rovings. Since the indigo pot is going now I decided these needed a few more dips. I love the color they are now and to keep them this way I think they will need two to three more dips. I am totally guessing, I know you are supposed to dye 2-3 shades darker than you want the final color to be. My first piece of felt is also in the top corner of this picture, it was a white corriedale square and now it is a blue corriedale square. Wow, right?

Our instructor, Claudia, also let us dye some of our own handspun in the class so I stuck these in: more 2 ply Merino and a thick and thin single. These will need several dips, I think they only got two fast ones at the end of the class. Indigo has a smell that is somewhere between a rotten egg and burning rubber. Something like you might imagine The Bog of Eternal Stench to smell like. In fact, I think indigo dyeing arose of bogs in some places; something about things being dropped in the bog and coming out green and then turning blue when they hit the air. In any case, to me it smells rare and blue. Its all terribly Eye of Newt, there is the big pot over the fire, (no bubbling allowed though!) the finicky & fermenting ingredients, the magic of color change from yellow/green to deep blue and, of course, enter me-the bedraggled hag with rubber gloves.

Cochineal, Cochineal, madder and cochineal/fustic/madder mixed. Now that is an imaginative title for this shot. The mix is the pink. Although at the time I was convinced that the pink was somehow the madder and the orange the mix. I was absolutely certain that there had been some amazing weirdness that happened to produce this result. Of course, it was my own incredible ability to mislabel. So, this was the other portion of our class. We did some dyeing with natural dye extracts (the indigo was also an extract) and we ground the cochineal bugs in a coffee grinder (I didn't do this but I did get two bright red bundles of fiber out of it) and got this fabulous red with it. Claudia recommended that we not overdye these, they would have been a beautiful purple I think but she said that this red was a special treat for natural dyers since this level of brilliance is so costly that we would probably not dye like this again on our own. I am not super into the whole idea of grinding bugs up but I am into red. I've tried for red with madder but haven't had luck with consistent results, haha, welcome to natural dyeing I suppose. I am going to try a purely cold dyed madder with the fiber left to mordant for a long time and then a long, long soak in a high concentration of madder. I hope this will get me something more red! I know it will be a yellow/red and not a blue/red but I can live with that. Cochineal, I suppose its not much different than silk. I wish they could just find the already dead bugs and grind those! Wouldn't that be nice?! Like road kill cochineal, you know? At this point in time I not totally comfortable with buying farmed bugs to mash up but I am happy to hang onto this bright red goodness for now.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Indigo and overdyeing

Here is a first dip of a small handwashed, carded and spun skein of Merino and some Merino roving. I'm not sure how many dips I've got planned for this wool, I'll probably do a range between four and ten to see what the variations are.

The osage and indigo are supposed to come out "bottle green" and the osage made a nice, strong yellow so I'm hoping for a clear green on these. I'm not sure if I'll do the same amount of dips for all three pieces of roving or try for a little variance. I think I might spin it as a single and ply it with a single of indigo dyed merino. I'm not sure yet. Its not as fine as the Merino I have so I'm still deciding what to do with it.

Here are all the handspun skeins lined up. And my the shadow of my pinky. Who knew my pinky did that when I took pictures. Its kind of regal don't you think? Again, the overdyed skein is at the top the the middle two skeins have had three dips and the bottom skein one.

I'm also spinning away those madder locks. I'm hand carding them a little at a time and then spinning them up on the Schaact. Some of the tips are a little felted but this is from the intensive washing I had to give them to get the notorious Merino grease out. Actually, I think I was rushed along during the washing process by my kids. (I've since learned to time things carefully, I can only do fibery things when they are both asleep. So, never-haha!) The felting is easily dealt with as I just save the locks for some later felting project. I am into the madder right now since I am reading The Root of Wild Madder. Its great, its the first real book I've read in a long time and I'm enjoying it. I like seeing all the shades from the same dyestuff and thinking about how its going to look plied and then knitted. I like the harmony that you arrive at so easily with natural dyes. And I like that garish is a near impossibility. I think that should be a seductive incentive for any beginning dyer.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Here is an older skein of handspun that will hopefully be reaching the end of its skeined life soon. It is carded brown merino, brown baby alpaca top and hand dyed silk noil. (Yes, I know. I don't consider silk noil to be "humane" but I happened to have some so I spun it. Sssshhh.) I spun and plied it with random coils thrown in for giggles. I plan on making myself a hat with this. Possibly with earflaps! Sorry about the crumby picture quality, I'm working on it. Hopefully I'll figure our camera out better as I go along with an inventory of my stash.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Osage, Madder and Merino

Recently, I started working on some handwashed Cormo and Merino fleeces from a local farm and dyed them with osage and madder. I also dyed up some Rambouillet roving that was a part of my fiber raffle winnings from Homestead Wool and Gift Farm in Wisconsin-thanks Sandy! The Rambouillet is dyed with osage orange and is drying on the deck on this overcast morning. I'm hoping it will dry a bright yellow as I have plans to overdye some, if not all, of this with indigo. I had a bit of an emergency with the dye pot as I think I overheated it a good deal. This was due to forgetfulness during the dinner/bath/bed rush. I was going to try to force myself to leave the fibers to soak in the dye bath for a longer period but I couldn't stand the wait, were they ok? Were they felted and destroyed? So far, it seems that there was little or no damage done. Hoorah! Now if the sun can manage to dry them up I can get to some carding and spinning tonight.

I like how this clump of madder dyed merino came out looking like fire with the very red tips. I also like how the grass is in focus and the wool is totally out of focus. This displays my mad photography skills. The tips really did come out redder than this picture-thanks again skillz!

The two bunches on the right are madder and the roving and other bunches are different concentrations of osage.