Friday, August 26, 2011

harvesting color!!!

i normally use acid dyes when i dye my fiber but sometimes i like to experiment with natural dyes. i have this amazing natural dye book "harvesting color" by rebecca burgess. the book has recipes and knitting patterns!

i so love it that she didn't use capital letters in her title! kindred spirits!!! anyway-i don't want to digress on that issue. this book is a must have for anyone wanting to dye with plants. i noticed that she had a recipe for dyeing with french broom(genista monspessulana)- a non-native invasive plant species that grows everywhere by my house- yipee! i'm always thinking of uses for invasive plants but never really come up with much. i decided to try dyeing with the broom!

most natural dyes require mordant of some kind to get the dye to stick to the fiber and stay there. many of these mordants can be pretty toxic. i prefer to stick to mordants like alum and iron. i prefer the rusty iron water technique i learned from the book.
actually my first gallon of iron mordant water was gifted to me from my friends claudia and birdsong. birdsong has her own natural dye CSA called Nature's Cauldron. gotta go check out her website!

they put a couple handfuls of old rusty objects in a gallon jar with water and white vinegar.

i especially liked the old horse shoe. i then set it the sun for many weeks and the water turned cloudy orange.

after the iron water was strong enough- thanks to the power of the sun, i simmered my skeins of superwash merino in the iron water for about 60 minutes.

dang- sorry the picture came out so dark!! hope you get the idea! anyway i was amazed at the color of the mordanted yarn.

i thought it was pretty in itself! unfortunately my soft buttery merino became very dry and harsh feeling:( maybe that's why my own hair gets so dry and brittle- we have very high iron content in our well water. i let the skeins sit for over a week before dyeing them. rebecca states in her book that she achieves better colors this way.
then i gathered 2.5 pounds of french broom. i will definitely harvest in the winter/spring next time as the plant easily pulls up by it's roots in the wet weather-hence getting rid of the non-native invasive plant.

i cut the plant matter up into smaller pieces so it would fit in the dye pot.

i ended up having to use 2 pots as there was so much french broom. i boiled the chopped up plants for about 80 minutes. i then let the dye pots cool overnight and then reboiled the plant matter for another 90 minutes the next morning to fully extract the dye.
while the yarn soaked in hot water i strained the plant matter out of the dye and combined the 2 pots of dye. the yarn soaked for about an hour and then i simmered the skeins for about 80 minutes in the strained dye bath. the color came out a deep dark army green- my camera won't capture the color no matter what i do.

This is NOT the color in anyway. the color is more like color of old dark green army pants- remember back in early 80's when wearing army pants was hip? for any of you that henna your hair- it's kind of the color of the henna paste.

it's not like this either- i'll repost the picture if i can get a better one.

All in all the experience was good- much more work than my acid dyes but i like the idea of using the invasive plants for something. not too happy about the harshness of the yarn but i'm going to try a soak in some hair conditioner to see if that helps.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a bit of a catch up!

dang things have been way to0 busy; can't even manage to get a weekly post in-so much for a lazy kickback restorative summer! thought i'd update ya'll on what i've been creating lately. i decided to a 12 in 12 sock challenge for 2011. that's knitting a pair of socks per month this year. i'm a bit behind.

here's my july handspun socks:

they aren't that bright in real life. i knit a sweater for my new darling niece Rory Mckenzie. my camera was having some sort of fit-the picture turned out horrid.

i actually finished a sweater i started 3 years ago. remember this?:

i dyed the yarn eons ago! it's my mr. green jeans! feels so good to complete something. i even got to wear it at a very special occasion- soon to be blogged about. stay tuned!

i love the sweater! it's one of those everyday kind of sweaters.

i spun an awesome roving i got at stitches this year from wool candy. I made a cowl from it. and now fingerless mittens.

here's another roving i got at stitches- from girl on the rocks. the hard part is what to make with it!!!!

i hope to get caught up in the blogoshere( is that a word?) soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

sadness is an empty chair

the wild animals have been well fed this week. sadly we lost both Kitzie and Pilsner to predators. it comes with the territory when you live on the frontier. i know their life span is shorter when they are allowed to come and go as they please-but they sure had a grand life here. Pilsner and Kitzie were very happy cats.

this is the chair that Kitzie napped and slept in every nite next to my bed. it's empty now.

we know the predators got them as they never ever stray. they are always right by the house and never miss a meal. first i noticed Pilsner hadn't been nagging me to feed him in the morning. then blue was viciously barking to get out in the middle of the night- liam heard a cat scream right outside his bedroom window. the next day we found a trail of blood(and no Kitzie) from the trail by the house going far into the woods- possibly a coyote bringing food back to her pups. the neighbor is also missing 3 cats.

it's the cycle of life, i know. i'd rather they went this way then a senseless death like getting hit by a car. They were the best cats- even thought Kitzie(aka luca brassi) drove me nuts sometimes. we will miss you! here's a tribute to the the little and not so little buggers!

Pilsner-born on this very hill- what a handsome fella. everyone who knew him was astonished by his size. he was our zen cat with a hint of devil in him- just a hint. like when you walked by a chair he was sitting in, he would reach out and snag you. then pretend he didn't do it!

Our little Kitzie.

Kitzie actually has 3 blog posts-possible more. you can check them out! her love of fiber, her lust for chicks, and her ability to tangle yarn.

thank you Pilsner and Kitzie for enriching our lives.