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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Dyeing with Lichen

This is a little experiment I did for TdF with some bags of lichen I've had sitting around for a while  (I always lay my lichens out to dry before storing them, otherwise they can go mouldy).  I used the boiling water method for these because I didn't have enough time to ferment them. 

This one grows quite flat on wooden branches and is sometimes difficult to remove without taking a bit of wood with it.  I try to avoid getting wood in my lichen dyes because it can dull the colours.  I think this is a Parmelia type, but no idea which.

The fleece came out quite pale, sort of a mix of beige and yellow, but was quite nice once spun.

The second batch was from a bag of mixed lichens :-

There's all sorts in here.

These gave a pretty pale yellow

which actually doesn't show up that well in the skein :-

Finally, I had a bag of this lichen.  I think it may be Usnea, but again, I'm not sure which one.

This one looked by far the deepest of the three

and much brighter when the locks were picked out and fluffed.

Not a bad colour :-

All of the skeins I've shown you were awaiting their final wash.  I was quite amazed to see them change and brighten as soon as they hit the soapy water.  Here they are finished :-

As you can see, there's not much difference between any of them.  Next time, I'll just put them all in together!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

TdF Challenges

During the Tour de France, there are usually two days which are particularly challenging for the riders - usually when they have arduous climbs through the mountains.  On those days, we spinners like to challenge ourselves as well.  Karen, our intrepid Team DIY and Dye leader, usually comes up with a task for us (sometimes suggested by one of our team members) to challenge our skills and endurance!

Here's the first for this year : spin as much as you can for 10 minutes, then measure your yardage.  I was pretty certain I was going to totally suck be bottom of the class in this one because I think I'm a pretty slow spinner.  Sure enough, my suspicions started to be confirmed when the first team member posted her results - 71 yards.  I was pretty sure I couldn't get anywhere near that.  Anyway, here's my attempt :-

No idea what this fleece is - it came from a World of Wool botany lap waste bag.  I pre-drafted it ready for spinning (not sure if this was cheating or not!), and here's what I managed to spin in the allotted 10 minutes :-

34 yards.  By this time I was feeling pretty useless as you can imagine.  Then other team members started posting their results and I didn't feel so bad after all.  It seems I'm average - most of them were about the 30-40 yard range.  I don't mind average, average is better than useless!

The second challenge we were given was to spin 10g fibre as finely as possible and then measure your yardage (no time limit with this one).  I picked out some raspberry acid dyed Falkland from my stash for this and flicked the individual locks into a soft cloud of fluffiness.  I thought Falkland would be good because it's quite a long staple and it's easy to draft it out finely.

This took quite a while and I was surprised how much fibre there was in 10g.  Here's the finished article :-

I think this is the finest I've ever spun - and the grand total?  159 yards!  I was quite pleased with that.

Both of these yarns have been left as singles for now because there's more of each fibre to spin.  After the TdF finishes (that's today folks!) I'll put them back on the bobbin and spin the rest.  Then they can be plied and finished.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The demise of the St John's Wort Dyeing

Remember this :-

This was the colour I got from my recent dye session using St John's Wort flowers.  After it had dried I put this Falkland fleece into a bag in my craft room to await carding and eventual spinning in the Tour de Fleece.

When I retrieved it for carding, I noticed the colour had dulled and didn't look quite so pink any more.  This was in a darkened room as I normally keep the shutters closed when I'm not in there.

Nevertheless, I carded it up and spun it.  At all stages the colour was changing, whether it was in the sun or not.

This was my spun single made into a centre-pull plying ball.

Here it is after plying, waiting for it's wash.  The lower skein is made up of the 2nd and 3rd dips into this dye bath.

And here it is after washing and drying on the washing line in the sun :-

Not a trace of pink left!  Very disappointing.  In future I think I'll leave these flowers by the roadside where they look more beautiful!

Friday, 15 July 2016

TdF Madder Spinning

Thought you might like to see how the madder dyeing session ended up.  Here are the 3 finished bobbins showing each colour.  There's actually quite a difference in shades here.

I thought the plying balls looked quite good too.  There wasn't very much of the palest one, but I think they'll all go together pretty nicely in a project.

This shows the finished skeins after plying alongside a bobbin of home-grown cotton that I've been spinning.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Dyeing with Madder

More TdF prep going on here.  This time with madder root.  I've dyed with this many times before but the intensity of the colours I get always takes me by surprise.

The top right hand side is the first dip, using Falkland again, and on the left are some rolags I've already carded.  The bottom right is the second dip, so still a fair bit of usable colour, and the bottom left is the third dip.  I really like this pale, delicate pink.  After the third dip the dye bath was completely clear, even though the dye stuff was still in there - I think I can call this exhausted and throw the rest away!

I've been using Falkland for all my dyeing this year because eventually I hope to have enough to make a sweater with all the different natural dyes I can manage.  The beauty of natural dyes is that they all seem to go together, I've never had two colours clash.

So, only one day before the Tour de Fleece begins . . . I'd better get back to my carding!