It’s just days away until Summer is over. And it’s time to be gathering some of the best dye plants in our area. This past weekend, Bill and I headed out to find Goldenrod. It is an amazing dye plant. It grows wild all along the roadways here in Maryland. And we were lucky to find some that had been spared from mowing and herbicides that are used along roads to keep the weeds at bay. They were in full delightful bloom.
My plan is to separate the blooms from the leaves and woody stem. The stems will go into the compost pile. The leaves will be dried and frozen for later dye sessions throughout the winter. The flowers will be made into a dye pot this week.
Here’s what I will be doing…. I will cover the blooms with water (at a neutral pH). In fact I may put my rain barrel back in service, since we should be getting some rain this week. I will slowly raise the temperature of the flower water mixture, careful not to boil it. I will keep the water just below the simmer. Then I will set it aside and let it cool. Once cool I will remove the flowers.
When it’s time to dye, I will presoak my scoured and mordanted wool and then add it to the dye pot. A good rule of thumb is to have equal weights of fresh flowers and dry wool. This will give you a nice shade. I will begin to raise the heat of my dye pot and again keep it under the simmer for 1 hour. I will check it to see if I want to leave the wool in overnight, or just stop there.
Then I can make a determination if there is leftover dye (exhaust) that I can use to dye more yarn in a soft, more muted color. I’m super excited to get started!!
I’m starting to do my natural dye experiments for a truly “Fibershed” yarn. The base is our new Polypay worsted. It is made from fleeces grown at a partner farm in Virginia and spun in Pennsylvania.
First I gathered the whole black walnuts on our property. I cracked the husks off the nuts. (I really thought I took a photo of this step, but alas not). Then I soaked those husks for about a month.
Wednesday, I heated the dye liquor up and put in 2-color skeins and a semi-solid skeins. I heated them for at least an hour. Dyeing with walnuts doesn’t need a mordant as the tanin in the dye is mordant enough. Then I let the pot cool down and let it sit for another day. Then on to rinsing and drying the yarn.
I think these look great. The pot still contains a lot of dye, so I’ll be using it until it’s exhausted. I’ll do some other 2-color experiments with maybe some madder or some cochineal too. Those would look nice. Stay tuned!!
I’ve been talking about Fibershed. And in that light, I know that I need to relearn all about natural dyeing again. I’ve done it a lot. I’ve taken a lot of classes. But I’ve never done it in a production with reproducibility in mind. I will have to really pay attention to water and temperature and weight. And still I know there will be variability….that’s just the nature of natural dyeing.
As many of you know I do have a few naturally colored yarns in my line up already. They are more rustic yarns. They are not as soft as my Livily or Trasna yarns. They are just a little more hardy. And still, there are many items to make with these yarns. They are great for outwear. They are long wearing and will last a long time.
So in that vein, I’m now knitting a truly local sweater. I’m making a Shifty sweater. And I’ve had to do a lot of math and fanageling because I am using my own yarn that is bigger than the pattern calls for. And I don’t want a pullover style. So I added a steek area and so I’ll have a cardigan at the end. The back ground yarn is my Puck which is charcoal wool, mohair and alpaca. And the contrast yarns are mohair yarn that is naturally dyed. In fact this yarn has been hanging around for a long time since I dyed it. And now I have a project for it.
I don’t really know how I found this book. I bought it for myself and added it to the mastery books I plan to read this year.
This book is fun to dip into. You don’t need to read from front to back. Each “chapter” is devoted to a master dyer. There are indigo dyers and cochineal dyers. There are dyers from every continent, except Antarctica, of course. There is a loose organization by dye type, for example there are several dyers profiled who work with Indigo in various parts of the world. I’m enjoying reading about how these dyers learned their craft. The stories of family and of place.
The photographs are wonderful. It truly is a coffee table book. And it is well written and interesting.
This book has made me think about mastery. Some like those dyers in the story learned their skills and mastered them within the confines of their cultures and families. My journey to mastery has been much different. My expertise has developed through years and years of practice. Lots of great results and also heartbreaking failures as well.
As you know I’m working on some online ecourses to help you on your way to learn dyeing techniques so that you can get the yarn that you dream of. You can be first to be able to enroll if you are on the Learn with Lisa email list. Click here to sign up.
For the first time, I’ll share with you two ways to dye your own roving. In this Feb 29th workshop, you will dye approximately 8 ounces of fiber (either BFL or Merino, depending on availability). You can decide what colors you will use and we’ll talk about how to avoid felting your roving in the heating process. All my workshops have small so that you get individual attention. Click here to grab your spot.
It’s a new year and it’s the time when I think about what I want to learn. It is the time of year, when the fiber festivals are all done and I have more time to devote to teaching you a new skill, such as dyeing, knitting, spinning or weaving.
First up is my Dye your Socks workshop, I have scheduled 2 dates for this: Jan 20 (MLK holiday and Feb 8th. I limit the number of participants so that you have lots of individual attention. All you need to do is come with an idea of what color(s) socks you would like. You will leave with a variegated skein and a semi solid companion skein. Click here to register.
Dawn Viands will be offering a needle felted chick class to get you in the mood for spring. This class will be on Feb 9th. Mark your calendar and join our mailing list to be the first to be able to register for this class when it is available.
Dawn Viands will also be teaching pysanka–Ukrainian Egg painting class on March 8th. These are beautiful and can be put in your Easter basket or an egg tree for the spring holidays. Mark your calendar and join our mailing list to be the first to be able to register for this class when it is available.
Where to find us
We are located in Frederick MD. You can stop by during our open studios. Or buy online and stop by to pick up…I’ll run your purchases out to you in your car.
Open by Appointment!!
Monday through Friday 11-3
Closed Saturday and Sunday (Except Open Studio days)