zondag 4 januari 2015

A New Year

First of all, A Happy New Year of 2015 to all of you!
May your year be full of happiness and warmth, love and kindness, and may you be in good spirits all year long!

Do you believe that there is something like "coincidence"?
Well, I don't. Sometimes there are thing that are just supposed to happen.
Remember the cochenille last summer?  It is the blog post I just published, it was still in concept...:-(

Dyeing yarn is so addictive!
And it makes you go on, and try new stuff...

As there is a prospect of getting a piece of land in a public gardening project, my silent wish for 2015 was to get some dye plants. Well, silent? I told the Ravelry community...
Top of my list is madder, a plant that had been a luxury trading good from Zeeland for centuries before synthetic dyes were invented. Do you know old paintings of soldiers in uniform? The red of the soldiers' uniforms probably is created with madder.

This time I was working at the museum. The lady wore a marvelous, obviously hand knitted stola-scarf. We met lateron in the Café, and we had a most inspiring chat about handwork and designing and Ravelry. (Maybe later this year there will be a moment when the results of this chat will be published)
We exchanged mail adresses, and Ravelry nicknames.  In her next mail she told me that she has not only madder in her garden, but all kinds of dye plants with lots of great shades that makes you smile: indigo, woad...  the next time I'm in the neighborhood we'll meet!

We did so, and she handed me not only a bag with plants from her garden, but also seeds of all plants which give a colour. A whole rainbow. And a whole library with tips for the "how to" and soy beans to make a lovely "snack from own soil".  It seems that I like some "out of the box" stuff...
Yes, I do!

And I can't wait for the spring to come!

Leap of Faith

Last year I was happy to meet very nice people in Jeanet's shop.
They had some information for the local museum, which - unfortunately - was closed that day.
And, the friendly man was interested in some wool for weaving, and so we talked about the one or other thing...
He told me that he once experimented with dyeing with natural dyes, cochenille being one of them.
But he didn't do that any more, to much fuzz.
Oh, how much would I like to try that kind of fuzz!
He said that somewhere in the attic there might be a little leftover, and if he finds it he'd send it. Make my day!

But, unfortunately, no message from him any more.

Until last summer.  One morning Jeanet called. There were people looking for me, from Germany.  I dashed to her shop, and, indeed, there were the people from Germany again.
Out of a beautifully woven bag a small jar was conjured, with the lovely little dried lice.
The man had found the jar in the attic, but he had second thoughts about sending it: it would have to pass customs somewhere, and it is animal material, and he did not want it to be picked out and be confiscated to be destroyed. That sounds sensibel!

Well - said so - the jar became mine!  :-)

Now the research was started! The internet and an old book on spinning and dyeing I could thrive for the necessary mordants. Which is not so easy, as you don't want to be suspected of planning to extinguish your family... Grey haired old ladies can't be trusted!

So, here we start. A smelly business, but you don't have to stick your nose in it. ;-)
The next step: Put it in a saucepan with some water and let it boil. Tip: put a lid on, it is still a smelly business!
Now it is decision time: play it safe with a skein of wool, or dare and use three skeins of merino-silk?

The three beautiful skeins were prepared. One hour, 70°C, and then slowly cool down in the mordant solution. Done!
In the meantime a check on my dye.  Still smelly. And some black stuff floating on the surface. It must be the "tar" the books were talking about. "Remove all of it, carefully", because you don't want any of it to ruin your wool.  Okay - done!

Now another mordant has to be added. And ...  my dye turns dark orange!!!

Double check with a piece of kitchen towel. Yes. It is dark orange. But..........
With a few drops of the wool mordant the colour of the paper changes!

If that is going to happen to the wool...
The wool has to be rinsed first. And then into the dye. Simmer, nice and slow.
Dye one, dye two, dye three... cool down overnight.
Rinse. Hope for good weather.

And then: