Saturday, May 09, 2009

Playing hookey, dyeing and more on spindling

I ran away for a couple of days to visit an old friend and go on a beading course. Fun. Very simple design, so a nice relaxing day doing something I enjoy with no distractions like what to get for supper, or noticing grubby windows. Although a simple design, it was time-consuming to do, so I have nowhere near finished. I intend to keep going with it this weekend. Ahem.

In talking about spindles, I did own up to having completely forgotten the Spring Spin Off. I really have no idea how that all went out of what passes for my brain, but there we go, I suppose this is the future screaming to a halt at the platform. Anyway, two excellent articles on spindling, one on spinning a balanced yarn (by Jennifer Shafer) who has cleverly managed to keep the technical stuff accessible to those such as myself. The other by Abby Franquemont, on - top or bottom whorl. (Could have been embarrassing....) Read it - it's good stuff. Even though I don't agree with her on every point (how do you do a "grin" in Blogger?)

I have a really bad habit (one amongst many) of reading around something, thinking "wow, that's it, that's great" and then forgetting where I saw it. Just so with some of the information lodged somewhere in the aforementioned brain about spindling. So, I need to squeeze in some research time. Ah, well....

In ongoing "research" - or, playing around with, in real terms. I have been running a series of dye baths in readiness for my talk at Woolfest.

onion, alkanet, paprika, turmeric

Here we have, from left to right: onion, alkanet, paprika and turmeric. These, and the others to come, are chosen for do I want to put it? Accessibility? Not quite. I'm looking at dyestuffs and methods that are as safe and feasible to use as possible for those wanting to dip a toe a very little way into the water of natural dyeing.

But I've done a cochineal series as well.


Again, from left to right, second exhaust, in a bath that had had alum in it; colour shifted with citric acid; first exhaust; first bath (alum added). I used around 30% WOF, and 10% alum, my usual amount of mordant.

But that is not what is so interesting here, as is probably obvious. I acquired these cochineal bugs around ten years ago. A package that would only just go through my letterbox dropped onto the doormat one fine morning, nearly giving me palpitations when I realised what it was. Ed Franquemont had been staying with us earlier that same year, and had sent me a care parcel. (Of bugs? Most people would consider this odd - I considered it utterly fabulous!) But over the years, I am quite sure that the obtainable colour has changed. Where you see a true purple, I am sure I would once have got much closer to red. This by itself is fascinating. I have wondered about using it all up before any really bad changes happen, but actually simply slowly using it and monitoring the changes - if any - will be even more interesting. Although I do now need to get hold of some bugs from Peru to compare and contrast.

So, I'm more or less giving up natural dyeing, am I? Doesn't look too much like it, far too interesting. As well as the spindle research, and....and.

Can I have three more lifetimes, please?

1 comment:

Astrid said...

The orange is a WILD thing to get from Cochineal. Really fun! You must have more cochineal... you must. And other fun things... do you get logwood, brazilwood, kamala in the UK?