Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Dye Another Day

Mid September...we've had our first mild frost, and it's officially fall. The regular garden maintenance at work is finished, and it's too early to start cutting back and garden shutdowns. The boss talked to the garden team last week and told us this, and he was really sorry, but we were going to have a few weeks where we wouldn't be working every day, starting with this week having yesterday and today off.

He really did seem a little concerned, like he hoped we would be OK and not starve because work was slow. I said I totally understood that was how the industry worked, and I was happy to have a little extra time to do my own stuff. And in my head, I'm going "Yes! Perfect timing! Thank you!"

So much going on outside of work between now and the end of October! All fun stuff, happily. It turns out I may have not one but two natural-dyeing classes to teach at the local guild, and today when I'm out doing errands, they will include picking up a parcel of yarn for the class, making an extra couple copies of class handout notes, and getting some dye supplies. Then Sunday I had a visit from someone I've done a couple commissions for, and she had a few more commissions she wants me to do, the biggest one with a deadline of beginning of November. Which coincides nicely with my prep time for the guild Ex and Sale. And of course there's Rhinebeck in mid-October. I've started a shopping list, and will be making reservations for dinners and sightseeing for our group in the next few weeks. We're planning to go to the Vanderbilt estate out there - Mom and I went the first year we did Rhinebeck, and the others haven't been at all, so it's time we revisited!

This weekend has been all about the dye pots again. There's a group my mother is part of, all multi-craftual, talented women, who are getting together and doing a series of KAL-type things, only not all knitting. Weaving, woodwork, embroidery, who knows what else. The current project coming up is knitting, though. One woman has a book with gorgeous stranded socks and slippers, so they're going to do that - only since most of them have done natural dyeing with me, and one has a dye garden, they decided to have me come and lead a workshop there, and natural-dye the yarn for their projects. And they are very enthusiastic! It was supposed to be 5 skeins each, but there was some extra, and so many possibilities with mordants and baths, that they ended up with 6 skeins each, and a bunch of things where they're going to split skeins between people because they couldn't decide between possibilities...I was there from 8am to 6pm, and we must have done a dozen colours on over 40 skeins, including woad and Japanese indigo from the garden. It was super fun, and lunch was a pot-luck, with spaghetti and salad, and fresh homemade cheese curds one of the women makes from their cows' milk! You know a good time was had by all when they're already planning next year's session...

I was supposed to do my mother's share of the skeins for the project, but saved that for the next couple days while I dyed my own stuff at home. Less crowded dye pots, and more leisure to plan. I think it turned out to be a good couple days' work:

Isn't the red something? I finally got around to using some of the pokeberries I've been freezing. Mashed a couple litres of them and soaked them in vinegar overnight, soaked an alum-mordanted skein in vinegar overnight also, mixed the two solutions and the yarn after straining the berries out, and simmered (covered, thank you!) for an hour or so. It boiled a little towards the end when I wasn't watching, but doesn't seem to have harmed the result. The other skeins going away from the red, include onion with copper mordant, dried coreopsis with alum, greenweed and onion with alum, rudbeckia with alum and iron/onion/woad, greenweed with alum overdyed with woad, rudbeckia with alum and iron, and two shades of black walnut, no mordant.

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