Thursday, 19 May 2011

it's that time of the year again!

that time, where plants grow everywhere that can be used for dyeing! during summer of last year I picked quite a few flowers of birds' foot trefoil (lotus corniculatus) for dyeing. the result on wool was a lovely yellow; when I went down to the bog last saturday I picked a small bag full. originally we walked down to check on the orchid flowers, but only leaves and buds were visible, we went down too early. depending on the weather we'll walk down again in 10 days or a fortnight. I dyed the usual way, but this time all I got was a beigey yellow, not as nice as the one from last year. I decided to try my luck with a bit of iron on a skein of sockwool, but before I added this I put in some potash, because very often a yellow intensifies with added potash. the difference was visible, but only just. I wound part of the skein around my dowel, so that only part of it touched the dye bath. which worked very well - until I started stirring and the dowel slipped in:)) this is the result:
the lower skein is the pure yellow, the upper one the dropped one! I only added part of the skein into the potash bath, and this part turned dark green. the rest - turned beige/grey! weird how some chemicals influence colours.... it's not sensational in the hank, but it might still look nice when knitted into socks. I find that the look of yarns in skeins can be very deceptive. some gorgeous skeins may look awful when knitted - and vice versa!
when I saw the dye result of purple sage here, I thought I might give my red-leaved elder bushes a try. I used a potful of leaves and dyed on alum mordanted yarns. on the left is sockwool, in the middle silk and on the right the pale yellow dyed with lotus...the darker green on that skein was from the first dye bath, the ligher green from the second. it's not quite as bright green as the result with purple sage - but it seems that a lot of red leaved species give shades of green in dyeing. the good thing about the elder is that it grows very well here and produces a lot of leaves quickly...
I am also spinning a lot these days. I need to use up some of the smaller amounts of dyed fibres I have flying all over the house! so I grabbed some yellows and greens, some superwash fibres that I solar dyed last summer, some hankies I dyed with saffron and bits and pieces of commercially dyed purples - to dye a "herb garden" yarn. I left about half of the fibres to use for another hank - but this time I'll add clear beads as "morning dew".

I also collected some fibres for my fairy tale spinning - but first I have to prepare for the meeting of the Connacht Textile Crafters on saturday! it's the weekend of the Feile na Tuaithe in the museum of country life, where our group demonstrates all kinds of textile crafts. usually I'd have chosen spinning (we can't do natural dyeing on a date like that, because we don't really have the facilities inside and outside the park is full of other stalls).  but this year the weekend has been organized by different people, who apparently find it amusing to let demonstrators walk very long ways to and fro. before I give myself a sore back from carrying my lendrum around for miles, I decided not to spin - I'll do bobbin lace instead. unfortunately the weather forecast isn't so great either and the lace board in its bag is easier to carry over one shoulder to leave one hand for an umbrella! the organizers shouldn't be surprised though if our group decided not to take part again in the Feile - I know that parking is always an issue, but it worked ok last time and I don't see a reason to change it to extremely annoying this year! new brooms, eh....?
anyway, I have to wind some more bobbins for my takeaway project - I am going to use some of the leftover clover silk in black from the bobbin lace fan - for a piece of lace that I'd like to attach to a silk top of mine, which I sometimes wear in v-necks that open too low. it'll only use 22 pairs and the pattern isn't too complicated, so that I can still talk to visitors without causing mayhem on the board....
see you after the weekend! 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

back home and itching to go....

.. we are back from Germany - well, actually we've been back for the last week, but you know how it goes, when you come back from a trip: unpacking, washing, ironing - getting sorted again....
we had fabulous weather, more like summer than spring, temps in the mid to high twenties (Celsius that is:)), bone dry for nearly two weeks. on the day we left it started to rain in the morning, but when we stepped off the plane in Dublin the sun was shining again! it's been windy and rainy for the last few days though - the garden looks more like a jungle by the minute! not to mention the weeds that creep out of every corner...

now that I handed over the patchwork quilt, I can show you a photo of it. it's a memory quilt with photos, surely not a masterpiece, but I didn't have that much time and did the sewing by hand (I still prefer that method, it's just so much more portable than with a machine!). there should really be more quilting on it, but again, lack of time made me choose the simplest option:)) anyway, the recipients seemed to be quite happy with it - and so am I. I haven't done much patchwork for the last few years and I do lack practice!

of course I took some knitting on the trip, but I didn't have enough time to work on the sock I started. and it was really quite warm over there, so I only managed to use up about 3 balls of wool for the grey Harry Potter sweater for DS. by now I have finished the back, started on the front, but I really fancied trying out the multi-coloured cotton I bought some time back. I had planned to use it on a garterlac dishcloth (thanks Cindy, for the tip:)) - but when I had finished the first square I decided that it would do just as nicely as a potholder, so I added an i-cord with loop - and started on the second one right after this. it's nice and soft and squishy and would make a nice summer tee as well - though maybe in slightly more muted colours:))

because it was so warm I spent more time spindle spinning than knitting. I took my spindolyn and some silk hankies I had dyed and managed about one spindle full of very fine silk yarn. don't know if I'll ply it or use it as it is - I'll have to spin a lot more first of all!
  when I went to do the shopping in town a few days ago I saw some leftover ripe ivy berries in the hedges. I picked them to dye a greenish grey with them - but as you can see it turned out a bit different:)) I dyed a skein of sock yarn with it. the darker brown batch was dyed first, then I let down a bit more yarn into the liquid, which turned greenish - and the last third of the skein turned a beige-grey. at first I wasn't all that happy with the result, but by now I do like the colours. they do match and I think they'll be perfect for a guy's socks - not too bright for the more conservative taste:)
I also spun up the second batch of natural white baby alpaca, but it looks just like the other skein, so no need for another photo. when I raided a hobby and craft shop in germany, I found some nice pompoms in shades of purple, black and red and also some beads, so the plan is to use them in a few special yarns. I would like to try fairy tales as inspiration for spinning; the thought of making "snowwhite and the 7 dwarfs" or "the devil with the three golden hairs" fills me with glee:)) but first - more gardening, to tame the jungle outside....