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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Getting Ready

Yes, I know we haven't reached the end of April yet, but lots of spinners on Ravelry are getting ready for this year's Tour de Fleece, so I thought I'd better join them and get started too.

This year, the team I'll be joining (again), Team DIY and Dye, has some very interesting challenges.  The first week is dedicated to challenging ourselves to new or different dye processes, i.e. if you normally dye with acid dyes, try natural dyes.  Well, I'm pretty much a natural dyer, but have dyed with acid dyes in the past.  What is new to me is dyeing with Kool Aid which my friend Victoria brought over from the US a little while ago, so I'll be having a go with that.  The other thing I've never done is fermented lichen dyeing, and, having plucked lots of lichen from fallen branches whilst we were in the Highlands of Scotland (very clean air there, so lots of lichens), I decided this would be a good choice.

Just look at the amount of lichen on these trees . . . most of the trees in the area we stayed were festooned like this.

So, yesterday I spent a bit of time sorting out all the different lichens - I think I have four different types:-

This one I think is Stags Horn Lichen (Evernia Prunastri) and should give red or purple when fermented with ammonia and water.

I think this is a type of Parmelia, but not sure which one.

This one is probably a relative of Evernia Prunastri.  It's smaller and greener - the one above is white underneath whereas this one is green.

This one, as far a I can tell, is Usnea Floridana, or Beard Lichen, and this one should produce interesting colours when fermented with ammonia too.

Close up of Usnea Floridana
By the way, if anyone more knowledgeable than I am is reading this, please correct me if I've identified these wrongly.  I'd love to know exactly what they are.

Anyway, I decided to start with the Evernia Prunastri as that's what I had the most of.  I put half of it into a Kilner jar with approximately half and half ammonia and water and gave it a good long shake.   This is what it looked like after half an hour :-

and, just 24 hours later, it looks like this :-

Very promising - there are definitely red tones in there already.

I'm not sure how long this will take for the colour to develop fully, so each day I'll keep stirring it throughout the day to introduce oxygen, and then giving it a good shake, and hope it's ready to dye with before the Tour de Fleece arrives on Saturday 5th July.

I'll keep you updated.

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