Saturday, 28 March 2009

Dyeing the greens

I haven't had many merino tops for sale on my website recently. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that my of my fibres really are one offs, so each time I put them for sale I have to photo them, resize, and write the blurb all for £4.25. Then a little light bulb went off in my head and I spent a long time working out range of repeatable colours of my own recipes. This however has not really worked partly because I don't really want to do that as I like the serendipity of not quite knowing what is coming out the dye pot, for example I know that 50% madder/50% cochineal will give me a red but I like it that each time it is slightly different, and partly because it gives me too limited a palette. Then my students/customers and friends said to me that the colours on the website did not do justice to my fibres. Finally I found I was really only just keeping pace with dyeing fibres for packs for my workshops and recently at every workshop armfuls of dyed fibres have just walked out with sometimes legs and a head just visible behind.
Finally despite the limited range on my website orders have picked up especially for the greens. So here is a picture of my most recent greens-the grass green on the top. Persian berries over dyed in indigo gives some of my favourite greens in winter. Normally I dye yellow then over dye in indigo but this time I also dyed in indigo first and then over dyed in Persian berry yellow. Something happened that I have noticed before namely that the take up of yellow is very poor suggesting to me that the indigo is blocking the receptor sites for the mordant. However I am not worried as it gave a fabulous turquoise. One 100g bump of merino came out beautifully patchy with yellow blues and greens almost as if hand painted. I could not repeat that one if I tried.
However the colours aren't as gorgeous on the photos in real life-so disappointing and the turquoises don't really look turquoise. :(
Now huge orders of raw fibres have arrived 23 micron merino , 18.5 micron merino,lovely yummy mixtures of the 18.5 merino with angora and with silk as well as self indulgent cashmere and silk and camel and silk . Finally some gorgeous white soft silky mohair from Leslie Prior of Devon Fine Fibres. It only arrived yesterday but I have washed one batch and now I am itching to spin it as I love mohair. So I am starting to dye ready for Wonderwool, more up and coming workshops and for the website.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Dye Garden

Genista Tinctoria yellows
A quick whizz around the dye garden this afternoon showed some of the dye plants have started to flourish in the spring sunshine.
Rubia Tinctoria below giving reds, corals and oranges
Isatis Indigotica Chinese woad blues
Anthemis Tinctoria Dyers Chamomile Yellows
Solidago Canadensis Golden Rod Yellows
Reseda Luteola Weld Yellows

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Dyeing with extracts

Posted by Helen
I have a lot of workshops coming up all in the next three weeks: Leaves of Gossamer Felt (felting a scarf from 18.5micron merino), two Winter Landscapes and a weekend of Felt and Fabric Tote Bags.
I have had great fun dyeing the materials for these workshops and here is the result. All the fibres are hand painted in natural extract dyes which I use a lot especially for painting the fibres multicolours, but the very strong pink (bottom left) is dyed in cochineal extract 2g /100g of fibres. The exhaust a lovely pale delicate pink is in the dye bath as I write. The wool is all 18. 5 micron merino, and in the centre are balls of muslin for the Felt and Fabric Tote Bags. THe other fabrics are silk caps (some times known as mawata caps) some pieces of silk chiffon and teeswater. I am very proud of my dyed merino as I have, over the years, developed the technique which leaves the fibres open and soft.My friend Debbie, the Mulberrry Dyer, says I am the only person she knows who knows how to do this.
The dyes are cochineal, lac, logwood purple, logwood grey, madder, green, osage orange, fustic and persian berries. The lac and the madder are from Tinctoria Dyes, and the rest are Earthues except for the green & persian berries which are Living Colour extracts both of which come from the Mulberry Dyer.

I must be feeling better as I am blogging at night the first time I have done so since before the great lurgy struck me down.