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). 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 mordant 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!!!

Alkanet II

Anchusa tinctoria, orcanette, rothe Ochsenzunge, alcana, boglas

I don’t think I’ve had quite as much linguistic fun and dyepot surprises from any one plant before. While looking up names of alkanet in other languages, I went from English through Irish to ancient Greek, then back to German and Swedish. Let me explain…

The variety/varieties of Anchusa and related genus Pentaglottis are known in northern Europe as either bugloss or ox tongue. I couldn’t find one source that would tell me the name of Anchusa tinctoria in Irish/Gaelic (though I did come up with scorsa luibh, then found I couldn’t verify this anywhere else), so wondered if perhaps bugloss came from the Irish bog/bogach + glas =  green o’ the bog – that’s my name, not one I found somewhere else). Well, no. It appears that bugloss actually comes from Old French, from Latin, from ancient Greek and means “ox tongue”. Well, at least it would have fitted in nicely with Irish and not stuck out like a sore thumb… Nach bhfuil mo bhuglas alainn an bhliain seo! Any genuine gaeilgoir is welcome to make corrections here and should make allowances for a sassenach gan m(h)úinteoir.alkanet.jpg

OK, back to the dyepot… In an earlier post, I’d obtained pure black from steeping the roots in alcohol. This time I tried steeping the roots in water alone for a week, then doing the usual. The results were quite surprising, considering two Guild buddies had come up with purple and grey. All the shades ospoon.jpgbtained were quite distinct, but the most notable results were that no mordant keeps the red, whilst an alkaline modifier transforms the reds to green shades. Here’s an intersting source if you’re interested in the chemistry: green alkanet

So what happened to the purple? Have a look at the spoon which I hadn’t de-gunked before stirring. I may very well give this one more go before I give up. Beirthe caillte…

 

Sunflower seeds

sem. Helianthus annuus, graines de tournesol, Sonnenblumenkerne, semillas de girasol, síolta lus na gréine

I’ve had a jar of sunflower seeds, var. “Van Gogh”, sitting in the cupboard for about two years now, so high time to use them. The plants grew to just under 6’/2m tall and had large heads. Fortunately for me and the dyepot, they were sterile so the birds and rats sunflower seedsleft them alone.

The seeds are blacker than black, and I think I used 2 x WOF, but didn’t write it down. A few more grammes were added to offset any non-dyestuff (the brown bits), and then the whole lot was simmered for about 45 minutes, producing a deep, purplish-black liquor.

After straining the liquor on to the mini-skeins, the yarn was simmered for another 45 minutes. If there was any smell, I can’t remember, so probably not. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything marvellous, so was more than pleased with the results.

sunflowerseeds2

Skeins 1 and 5 (left to right) gave red-brown with no mordant (5 had a vinegar modifier), while mordanting brought out the browns (2, 4 & 6). Skein 4 was modified with bicarb, which turned it an interesting shade of green-brown. And the end use? Going on results of light- and wash-fastness (to come soon), I can see a pair of socks using several of the colours together..

 

Walnut leaves

Juglans regia, feuilles de noyer, Walnussblätter, hojas de nogal, duilleoga gallchnó

It’s the time of year when I remind myself that if I don’t go and pick some green walnuts soon, they’ll be too hard to cut for nocino. Only last week we found two more “wild” trees while out walking doggie and another one on the way bacwalnutk from harvesting, so now that makes seven. Sounds like the making of a poem or song.

I also gathered enough leaves to experiment with dyeing. The results were interesting, even though at first I confused my mordanted with unmordanted samples. The unmordanted yarn was clearly “marked”, but produced slightly lighter shades. Ethel Mairet wrote that mordanted yarns produce a “brighter and richer colour”. I’ll definitely try again, and also with dried leaves.

From the top: unmordanted, mordanted, unmordanted + alkaline modifier, mordanted + alkaline modifier, unmordanted + acid modifier, mordanted + acid modifier.

The alkalinewalnuts2 (bicarb) brought out more brown, whereas the acid (vinegar) brought out a redder tone.

When the leaves were simmering, they smelled surprisingly like rhubarb leaves and did not take long to yield their colour into the water.

And the nuts? They’re already turning the vodka dark and bitter. After steeping for a month or so, the liquor will be strained and bottled and ready to drink this time next year. Well worth the wait!

Mixed bag

Foeiniculum vulgare et Verbascum thapsus, fennel and mullein, fenouil et molène, Fenchel und Pyramiden-Königskerze, hinojo y  gordolobo, finéal is coinnle Muire

Fennel is quite a weed in the Adelaide Hills, and every day on my way home I’ve eyed a large patch from the train window. Unfortunately it’s along the stretch of the line where mobile reception is bad, so I can never get an exact fix on its location. Still, there wamullein2s a smaller bunch growing near my local station, so a-harvesting I went.

The result was not good at all – maybe because I’d included stem instead of more leaves and flowers? I can try again next week. Rather than waste the yarn, I decided to overdye with mullein.

mulleinThe mordanted yarns came up more yellow, or rather a more intense (albeit slight) shade of the same mustardy-yellow. I wonder if the texture of the yarn had anything to do with refraction (the yarn is now at the end of the ball and is a lot more open, like singles rather than plied).

I first came across the German name for mullein in one of Horst Bienek’s novels; a boy collects the flowers and sells them to the local chemist. Interestingly, the name translates into English as King’s candle, whereas the Irish name is Mary’s candle. Other English names are Aaron’s rod and Adam’s rod… not to mention Cowboy’s toilet paper.

Evening shawl

warpEvery year I tell myself I won’t enter the Royal Show this year, but then make a last-minute decision to put something in. This year I decided I needed to get back into weaving (hadn’t done any for at least six months), so bought two entries and ended up entering one.shawl1

It had to be something different this time, or at least bigger than a scarf… a shawl. Maybe not the most adventurous step-up, granted. The idea came from Handwoven Sept/Oct 2013 which featured a moebius wrap. I didn’t want to risk ruining the item at the last minute with  dodgey sewing, so settled for a flat version, and also changed some of the yarns.

ribbonsThe warp was black wool (plied, commercially spun at a sett of 16 epi) and silver-grey and lake combo 8/2 tencel (24 epi). The weft was black 8/2 tencel. The original draft required a sett of 27 epi, but 24 epi and the use of wool made for a lighter, airier and more wrapable shawl. I’ll definitely be using this combination again.

Eucalyptus shawl

euc shawl 1Dolly’s second outing on the same day was to model a shawl. Before I go any further, I should point out that this is not some weird fetish; the model is named after a real-life character from childhood visits to my grandparents’ in Battersea. No resemblance other than the name.

The pattern is Alina Appasova’s Pinwheels Lace Shawl on Ravelry, and the yarn is handspun Finn x English Leicester. The fleece had so many different qualities of wool, and typically instead of spreading the fleece and separating them, I flicked and spun several locks at a time before moving on to a different location in the bag. The pattern and the yarn gave a springy, lacy knit that holds its shape and is definitely for cold season wear.

The yarn was dyed with Eucalyptus cinerea, sideroxylon, nicholii, amplifolia (the latter overdyed – euc shawl2see post below), and some of these blended. I had no idea how the colours would go together, and how I would achieve this, so in the end just went for knitting to the pattern until one ball ran out and choosing another, going down the scale from red to brown, dark to light, and finishing with darker and redder again. It worked.

This was given to the same recipient as the Wuthering Heights scarf, but as a birthday present in advance (to make up for the other one being late).

Wuthering Heights scarf

Last year I knitted a fair number of leaves from handspun (my own and a couple of balls of op-shopped) that had been dyed with plants and flowers etc. mentioned earlier in the blog. The pattern was from Crafty Galore .  It took considerably more time (until very recently) to decide how to arrange these together, and sew them, to make a scarf. So Kate Bush didn’t wear one in the video, anWH Scarf2d she wasn’t walking through a forest in autumn, but you can imagine…WH Scarf1

The leaves were sewn tip to stem, and arranged in a more-or-less plaited format. Worn, it can be draped rows-together or opened up more as a shawl. Either way, it was appreciated as a belated Christmas present and immediately coveted. Methinks this will be a one-off, however.

 

Eucalyptus amplifolia

The only specimen of E. amplifolia (ssp. amplifolia) I could find was a rather tall tree with branches high up and all fresh leaves out of reach. There were however plenty of dead leaves on the ground that hadn’t started to rot, so I scooped these up and went home with a bag full.

I simmered the leaves for a while, with a E amplifolia1small skein (a tie, really) of commercial yarn thrown in (see centre of ball) – this came out a deep brown which was what I had been aiming for after consulting a couple of sources. The next day I added a full skein of handspun, plus two other ties of the commercial, simmered them for well over an hour and waited for the same brown.

As you can see, the handspun came out an uninspiring shade of mustard (I’ve since overdyed it with E. sideroxylon). The two ties, which have gone walkabout, came out two different shades of brick red. Conclusion? That the handspun, although carefully scoured, hadn’t been processed nearly aE amplifolia2s much as the commercial and therefore wasn’t as receptive (porous?). It was also thinner, and translucent.

More recently I repeated the experiment with a second collection of un-rotted leaves of the same tree. The handspun came out of the dyepot in two different shades of honey brown, while the commercial was darker honey, but nowhere near as dark as the first experiment. Maybe the leaves were more rotten than I thought?

I also experimented (some time between the two other lots) with no-/mordant and/or modifier to see if there was much difference.E amplifolia3 Barely noticeable, so not one to repeat when contrast is called for.

There were a couple of small branches on the ground with fresh leaves that the parrots had been at, but not really enough to dye a skein with. Might try some leaf prints with these.