Thursday, 20 January 2011

A small Success with the Mohair Art Yarn

I rang up my friend Anne who has been mentioned on this blog more than once.  and had a bit of a whinge.  "I can't seem to get on top of these new yarns I  want to spin" I said full of  misery and moans -talk about the January blues.  "I think" said Anne,  expert spinner and generally a wonderful crafts woman "that you need to concentrate on  one and practice till you get it right" So I went round to visit  and practised and came home and did a bit more and here is  a lovely white mohair yarn on a fabulous mohair and  silk core yarn. yum It reminds me of snow and ice
Now the challenge is  how to describe it to  Online Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers for whom I  running a workshop in the rear future

are just starting  to appear

and now I am feeling a bit better

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A very little blog about Yarn maker

Yarn maker arrived about a week ago, but it was  a few days before I sat down with it,  with a cup of fabulous fragrant  fresh fair trade coffee - anything better than a cup of good coffee on a grey January day  is hard to find  and with the wood burner burning, near perfect -and read it cover to cover. Articles that I particularly enjoyed were Leslie Prior on Cashmere, Leslie  has the  only breeding flock in the UK and is very knowledgeable not only about the fibre but also about world trading conditions.   Amanda Hannaford  explains how to blend cashmere with lots of other fibres  and spin it.  There was a most fascinating article about the White Faced Woodland, which despite being a hill sheep  has a fine fleece.  It is  a new one to me so ........ memo to self get a fleece. This is the third edition of this new publication printed on recycled paper and celebrating the spinner's craft  but I think the best yet.  What else can I say?   Get yourself a copy.
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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Spun Mohair

This is the  first spinning of the carded mohair  I dyed in my previous post.  I carded it with a little-just  a little glitter, used a glitter thread as a core thread and then plied it with yet more of the sequined yarn.
Am I happy?
It is okay but not quite the cloudsof mohair I wanted.
I shall  have to try again

Friday, 7 January 2011

To Scour or not Scour that is the question.Or is it?

.Maiwa's  blog describes how  you need to scour -ensure that fabric is free of all natural oils and grease before dyeing-the conventional view. Cotton needs  a prolonged boil with washing up liquid and washing soda, silk just a gentle wash in washing up liquid  to remove dressing and wool a scour with washing up liquid either cold or hot depending on your preference. .India Flint on her blog as she often does takes an original and thought provoking point on the issue of scouring
India points out that  Japanese mordant methods which features many dips with drying in between before starching  and says ...".and if it's so strongly attached to the cloth that you have to boil it off with dangerously strong chemical assistants then you might as well leave it there......"
but then it is  not starch added after mordanting  being removed by boiling cotton in washing soda and washing up liquid it is the natural oils in the cotton being removed so you can mordant.
Do we need to remove the oils  from cotton? The sericin from silk and the lanolin form wool?
.Anything which has been washed  a lot is going to be okay for dyeing and DOH! stupid of  me - the point that India has made that washing powder  often contains sodium carbonate which will act as a mordant had not occurred to me.  So  well washed cottons linens and silks  may not need scouring or indeed  mordanting. You can check for the first with cotton by dropping a drop of water onto a dry cotton. If the water beads the cotton contains natural oils and so the water does  not penetrate.  If it goes flat and soaks in the cotton contains no oils.
My thoughts are like this:
If water cannot penetrate new cotton then nor will the mordants or dyes .
Many years ago when  I first  I tried dyeing cotton with natural dyes I was very disappointed at the pale patchy colour.  Then I discovered  JN Liles The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing. It was a light bulb moment for me and  an "aha! That's what I am  doing wrong" .   He emphasised the importance of preparation and tells you how to prepare all natural fibres. by scouring.
When I read the two blogs more carefully I realise what I had thought was a debate about scouring was two people talking (mostly) about two different things.  Maiwa about ridding new fibres and fabrics of oils etc and India Flint mostly talking about using recycled fabrics and washing silk (which had previously been dry cleaned)  However  her point that  her steaming of bundled fabrics  really pushes the dye into the fibre is something really worth worth thinking about  and trying.  All the fabric bundling I do is is setting  the dye over a long period with solar heat.

As I  said
Provided you are  natural dyer :)
Incidentally I go into scouring  in all my dye books  Currently on offer with 20% off on my website  (Till the end of January) but  both blogs are worth reading for  more on the subject. And India Flint's Eco Colour is one of  the great classics of the natural dyeing world.

Muslin and silks on the line.  

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The sentence of death for weld

These fabulous-well to a natural dyer they are fabulous- lovely weld plants are under sentence of death- the reason?  They are growing in Enys's green house.  She tells me she tried to germinate some weld seed a couple of years ago, they failed, she cast them on the greenhouse floor and her DH dug the ground for his tomatoes and .....Weld! Enys says she will try and transplant them but they have very very very long roots.
For some time now she has been nurturing madder in pots.  Amazing to think  these rather uninspiring looking  plants can produce of the greatest of dyes.  These plants are two years old and so only really need another year or possibly two. before they can be used .    Enys is going to give them a haircut this is,  she tells me,  to encourage growth. 
The other plant is Coreopsis sp one of my favourites as it makes  a lovely vibrant orange with ammonia.  
If you have clicked on the links to see the colour you can get  get from these you can see why I am really keen on them all.  I hope the weld plants survive being transplanted  I had very little weld last year and I really missed it. 

Oh! and Happy New year to all my readers  followers and friends .
May you be fulfilled 
and happy