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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Growing Up

. . . and learning to behave (at last)!

Bailey will be four months old on Thursday.  The time has gone so quickly.  He's now eating carrots (see pic above) - this photo looks as though the carrot was painted on afterwards, but it was just a particularly bright piece of carrot!  Cerise looks like a proud Mum watching over her boy - but actually, she's hoping he'll drop the carrot and she can pinch it!

He seems to be calming down a bit now too, and doesn't seem to be pestering the other alpacas as much, probably as a consequence of being spat at and having his ears chewed!  His face has also changed quite a bit in the last month or so.  He started off with quite a light coloured face but it must have been baby fluff because it's a lot darker now.

Before :-

After :-

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Autumn Leaves

I've been meaning to try dyeing with apple leaves for a while, but in the meantime autumn crept up on me.  I think the leaves are probably better in spring, but, nothing tried, nothing gained.  And they did have some lovely colours in there

which I thought might add a bit of depth to the dye.

The leaves were boiled up for an hour or so, left overnight, and then strained.  Jenny Dean's Wild Colour says that no mordant is needed for apple leaves (probably because of the tannin content) but I wasn't quite sure I'd get a good result that way.  In the end I split the fleece (merino) into two piles, mordanted one lot with alum, and left the other natural.

The natural (no mordant) was a bit disappointing.

Not even a nice beige!

The mordanted fleece was better, with a definite yellow tinge, but still a bit disappointing.

The fleece is still wet here, just out of the dye bath, so that's why it looks a bit felted.

I decided to give the two lots of fleece a quick after dip in ammonia, so poured a glug into a bowl of water, swished it round, and then added the wool.  This worked like a dream with the mordanted fleece - it turned into a rich, acidic yellow - but the beige was still beige afterwards, just a bit darker with a few highlights.

Here are the two results once they had dried :-

The ammonia did manage to turn the unmordanted fleece a nicer colour, but it's still beige.  Nothing wrong with beige if you like that colour, and I don't dislike it, but I've got lots of beige fleece from previous dye sessions that went wrong didn't quite reach expectations.  This one will probably be over-dyed with woad, which I have to pick very soon before we get any serious frosts.

Today I started to card the yellow, and it's really looking quite good :-

You can almost see the sunshine the leaves have absorbed all summer!