We’re having a warm autumn. No frost yet. A couple of cool nights, but, the browning of the grasses and weeds has more to do with senescence plus shorter daylight hours than actual wintry weather. I’ve been a slacker when it comes to dye plant harvest. This season, I mean it, I’ve been lazy. There are so many things still growing out there, so many things blooming, so many things yellin’ “Doncha wanna pick me?” that I simply caved. Picked a bucket of wild indigo, just to see what would happen. I’d read on someone’s dye page that this plant would, with coaxing, give color. I’ve tried, halfheartedly, to dye with this stuff before, but this time, I followed my standard indigo process. And it was a fail. I got a pale green before oxygenating the fluid, lemon yellow after raising the pH, and dark opaque yellow green after adding thiox. Soaked the wool. Set the temps. Set the timer. And nada. Maybe the palest yellow tint to the yarn. Gave it air. Nada. Dipped. Aired. Nada.
I found a jar with some dark rusty red gunk in it…and realized I was looking at an old avocado pit soak. Hey now. Heated that. Strained that. Got my failed weed dyed yarns into that dye bath. Promising.
I hung the skeins for half an hour and re-dipped ’em in my double boiler setup. Re-hung it. Holding my breath, I rinsed the yarn. Ha ha ha. That was fun. Five hours of fun. A yarn designer’s wet work. What did I get?
At least I know that these skeins are clean. For sure, they are clean.
As it turns out, I plucked a jar of leaves, worried about the possibility of frost, and my fear was unfounded. No frost. Temps dipped to about 38. But, I’m glad I didn’t take a chance.
Last night, after my pluck session, I weighed the leaves at just about 5 ounces. Timin’ was perfect – the plants are in bloom, only one settin’ seed. All I could think was, “What a shame. I’m not even going to get seed for next year.”
Since I was makin’ a thiox or spectralite pot of dye, I had to work fast. Hot water to cover the leaves. Double boiler til 160. Then, strain, raise the pH and oxygenate. And finally add the thioureadioxide which turns the fluid from dark greeny blue to light yellow over the course of an hour.
Finally, I soaked a couple special skeins – one of a worsted weight 2-ply spun from Curly and Bing fiber. And a fine 2-ply fingering from Holly. These are all memorial skeins. I knew the weight of the fiber was more than the pigment would cover, but, hell, I really wanted to dye both skeins. So, one at a time, they got a 20 minute soak, followed by a 20 minute hang, then a wash and a rinse. I overdyed some yellow silk/merino top as well, to see what green I could get.
Here’s the result:
gawjus blues of homegrown indigo
As y’all know, I have a thing for old speckled hens. And Provence. They go together like, well, peas and carrots. In all Cezanne’s landscapes of Provence, I don’t remember seeing a single chicken. I know, what a thing to dwell on. Anyway, I’ve been spinning throughout this crazy November heat wave, and thinking of Provence, and Cezanne, and listening to my chickens. I guess it was to be expected that I would spin Cezanne’s Old Speckled Hen.
Here is a link to my etsy listing: Cezanne’s Old Speckled Hen
Cezanne’s Old Speckled Hen
The wheel has been workin’ overtime. Had to rebuild the footman twice, even yet. Here are two of the latest from the Impressionist Series, Renoir’s Raincoat and Cassatt’s Picnic. The Renoir yarn is 375 yd of fingering weight 2-ply CVM/Romney-Alpaca-Gulf Coast Native blend. The Cassatt yarn is 140 yd of naturally dyed fat singles spun from Gulf Coast Native.