De-stash woollen blanket

couverture en laine, Wolldecke, cobija de lana, blaincéad olla

I’ve been doing some serious de-stashing of late, more out of necessity than anything else. But it’s produced some good results – mainly that I can see the floor again. I’d bought some weaving yarn from another de-stasher a few years ago, and with it came a bag full of homespunblanket1.jpg. Most of the yarn was from a fleece in all shades from beige to chocolate, and no doubt from a crossbreed sheep and a beginner spinner; the yarn was spun unevenly and had clearly been done by the same method as my own – stick your hand into the bag and spin whatever comes out, rather than separating the fleece into colours and textures.

blanket2The yarn was singles, so this was plied double, with the resulting average wpi at around 8, so I chose a four-shaft, 3-1 twill at 6epi. At first this seemed as though it may have had to come down to 4 or 5 epi, but the finished item confirms 6 epi was right. The size was calculated at using most of the yarn, although after weaving most of the blanket, I decided that the last ball looked too felted compared with the rest and cut the project short. It had obviblanket3ously come from the short-and-fuzzies of the fleece, while the rest was noticeably coarser and slicker.

And the result? Overall a successful project, and one that has made me want to do more single-colour, larger-scale projects.

Now, if anyone out there can translate “stash” and “de-stash” into French, German, Spanish and Irish… there’s some things they just don’t teach you at school or in the text books.

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Madder and madder

Rubia tinctorum & Rubia cordifolia, Garance de teinturiers et garance ?, indische Krapp u.echte Färberröte , rubia ? y rubia rota, dó madar

Now I really need help with the other languages! Anyone?

I decided to try both “regular” madder and also R. cordifolia (as the latter’s cheaper). I purchased some powdered samples of both varieties and tried them on commercial yarn, mordanted with 10% alum and also with some calcium carbonate added to turn the dyebath alkaline. I couldn’t be sure of this, as the pH paper didn’t change colour, but I added more than the 6g per 100g dyestuff to make sure.madder.jpg

The R. tinctorum is on the left and the cordifolia on the right. From bottom to top it goes thusly: 50% wof, 100% wof, exhaust bath. The cordifolia at full strength gave what I’d call “Indian red” after seeing this tone on so many throws and other items from the sub-continent; the colours in real life are a bit deeper. The top ball was thrown into two exhaust baths, as the dusky pink wasn’t so much to my liking.

With the tinctorum, the full strength gave me what I’d expected, or near enough.

All skeins needed a fair number of rinses to get the particles out of them (it went on the garden); their individual shade was probably twice as dark when coming out of the dyebath, due to the particles sticking to the fibre, but the rinse water was only coloured by the waste particles and no waste/unattached dye.

So, will I use madder again? Not unless I buy a larger quantity from overseas to make it economically viable. When hanging the skeins to dry, the following came to mind: “Avocado skins… avocado pits… Eucalyptus sideroxylon… Eucalyptus cineria…” However, a worthwhile experiment with usable results.

 

Three rag rugs

trois tapis de chiffon, drei Flickenteppiche, tres alfombras de trapo, trí ruga stiallacha

The French sounds suitably fashionable, the German commonly practical, the Spanish somewhat more exotic and the Irish quite comfortable for a language I’m still learning. Slowly. (Two days later: found out when nouns follow numbers in Gaelic, they stay in the singular).

denim2.jpgI’d made a couple of rag rugs some years ago and was amazed at i.) how much warp they required and ii.) how quickly they wove up. The first has become a foot mat under the loom pedals, whilst the second is stretched out in glorious tri-colour in the back room. This time the task was to get through the pile of old jeans and t-shirts that had grown to the right size for harvesting.

The two jeans rugs came out at c. 27″ x 45″ minus the fringes. I’d aimed for 50″ long, so this wasn’t far off. denim1One used 3 pairs of adult male jeans in large, the other 3 1/2 pairs (different sizes). The weft was cut into 1″ strips (more or less), and the binding was approximately half the width, cut from a linen shirt. Actually I have to admit that one of the large pairs was XXL. I’d run out of jeans and saw that they were only $7 new in one outlet, so naturally went for the biggest size I could get. Probably cheaper than an op shop, too.

The t-shirt rug is currently 25″ x 58″. It was on the same warp as the jeans, so I guess the stretchiness of the materials played back on itself. I followed Ton Kinsely’s advice in Weaving rag rugs and cut the t-shirts – 16 of them up to the arms – across, then stretched out the loops joining them by, well, looping the loops. The binding was the same as the warp – linen warp yarn. The rug is quite sturdy and sits flat at the end of the bed.

tshirtsAll the rugs are actually straighter than they appear in the photos (honest!), and after Mr Knisely’s comment on the DVD (you don’t need both DVD and book as they are in total accord) about never getting perfect edges because they’re rag rugs, I felt better.

Here’s an interesting Swedish site (in English) on the history of rag rugs: Story of a rug.

 

Painted corn and purple basil

maïs coloré et basilic rouge, gemalter Mais und roter Basilikum, maiz pintado y albahaca roja, arbhar Indiach is basal dearg

Firstly, if anyone can correct any of the names above, I’d be more than interested.

Back to the dyes… I decided to try some purple basil (the annual variety) and also some red basil (a perennial variety), so picked a large handful  – maybe two- of the flowering spikes.

The top row in the photo shows the results. The mordant (2, 4, 6 from left) clearly brought out deeper shades, whilst the alkaline modifier in addition to the mordant (4) gave me a bright green. The acid modifier (5 & 6) took away all the green and left me with beige.

corn&basil

I’d grown some painted corn this year, and one of the plants had a deep purple stem. The husk was also the same interesting shade, so this was worth a go in the dye pot. Both stem and husk spent a week or so drying, but am not sure this was entirely necessary, considering the deep burgundy colour of the liquor.corn

As often happens, the true shades haven’t come out quite true. Similarly to the basil, the modifier deepened the shades and the alkaline brought out the green. This time, however, the acid brought out the red. I’m eager to try these for both light- and wash-fastness (when I’ve finished with all the other samples in the ever-growing mound).

And the corn? The cobs that did develop to any size were not impressive (although the colours were interesting). Most had started to go mouldy inside, and some of the kernels which seemed not fully developed had even started to sprout. I’ll put this down to the weather this summer, as well as my lack of experience with this crop.

Walnut leaves – dried

Juglans regia, feuilles séchées de noyer, getrocknete Walnussblätter, hojas secadas de nogal, duilleoga gallchnó thriomaithe

This doesn’t count as a new dyepot as it was done a few weeks ago. Honest.

I can’t remember if I weighed the leaves; if so, it would’ve been at about 200% wof.  They dried quickly, hung in bunches in the shed. When I decided all moisture had abandoned them, a quick squeeze and rub showed they were still quite flexible and not ready to crumble like dried herbs.dried walnut leaves

The results speak for themselves – an interesting variety of shades, and along with the results from the fresh leaves, quite a range all from one tree.

Now I’m imagining a tartan dyer and weaver living in the vicinity of a walnut tree and having his own plaid in a dozen shades of brown. A project for the future? Next year, perhaps…

 

Avocado pits and skins

Persea americana, peaux et noyeaux d’avocat, Avocadoschale u. Kerne, cáscara y semillas de aguacate, craiceann is síolta avocado

This will probably be the last dyepot for a while (he says) and let’s face it, the bag of frozen, sliced avocado pits is in danger of being evicted for more deserving residents of the top tray.

I still have a jar of slowly-fermenting pit slices in the laundry awaiting a skein of cotton, but wanted to see how the pits and skins turned out on wool – without a ferment or any other long preparation involving alkalines that might damage the fibre.

200% wof pits were simmered for 45 minutes, the liquor strained over the skeins, followed by a further 45 minutes’ simmering. The bottom row shows the results with an alum/CoT mordant (2, 4 & 6) only darkening (dirtying? or maybe “saddening”) the shades slightly, the bicarb modifier (3 & 4) darkening the pink, and the vinegar modifier (5 & 6) lightening it.

avocado.jpg

As for the peel (top row), 200% wof dried (all that I had) was soaked in water kept (on-and-off) at approximately 60oC for an hour or two, then again strained over the skeins to be kept at approximately 60oC for another hour. All except the first (no mordant, no modifier) came out more brown than pink/red despite the liquor being a nice shiraz mataro colour, with the mordant and bicarb working together (4) to bring out a honey colour.

Try one more time? I have plenty of frozen and dried pits, but will maybe save these for an upcoming workshop rather than risk being buried under piles of pink skeins. I’ ve tried, Mary Ellen, I’ve tried… 

Pomegranate

Punica granatum, écorce de grenade, Granatapfelschale, cáscara de granada, craiceann pomegranáit

I’ve had quite a stock of dried pomegranate peel sitting around in the larder (I refuse to call it a “pantry” as most Australian-born do – sounds too much like something out of Upstairs Downstairs and we don’t have a maid) thanks mainly to a colleague with the appropriate tree – thanks, Fariha! So, after obtaining a beige tone on alpaca yarn some time ago, I wasn’t expecting anything more.

I used 200% wof on wool, and chose the bits of rind with the reddest colouring. The alkaline pomegranate1.jpgmodifier (skeins 3 & 4) darkended the colours, whilst the acid modifier (5 & 6) lightened them. Skeins 1, 3 & 5 demonstrate that no modifier is required. Each shade obtained is, however, worthy in its own right and in real life all are far more vivid.

I had read somewhere that pomegranate, being high in tannin, is also worth consideration in making turmeric more light-fast… Wonder what it will do for alkanet? I just had to try, so in the dye bath mentioned in the previous post, six doppelgangers (that doesn’t seem right without the umlaut, aber ich bin sicher, Ihr konnt es mir vergeben) were thrown in for an overdye.

pomegranate2.jpg

The original shades of pomegranate alone were strong and I suppose I should’ve repeated the experiment with yellow rind, and maybe at 100% wof. Oh well, let’s just shove some skeins in the pot and see what we get…

…more interesting shades with pinky (and perky) overtones. The light-fast testing will be interesting. Tomorrow’s been downgraded to 41oC (how cool…) whilst Sunday is still forecast to be 42oC. Even if it stays below that, there’s plenty of UV around for the tespomegranate3.jpgt.

Just as an aside, I “marked” the pre-dyed pomegranate skeins with some bits of other wool. How did they emerge from the alkanet bath? GREY AND PURPLE! Grr!!!