The Result of My Labor (See What I Did There?)

Happy Labor Day!

I’m really jazzed with the results of my black walnut leaf dyeing. This fabric will make some gorgeous autumnal project bags. I enjoyed this process so much, I’m already planning to do it again with black walnut leaves but without iron mordant, and another set with indigo from the garden. That should keep me busy making project bags for the shop.

Hope you’re having a great day! Are you working on something crafty?

Cranky and Caffeineless

With headings, so you can skip the things that don’t interest you.

My Bowels

My combo endoscopy and colonoscopy is done. They found two polyps (off for biopsies), diverticulitis, and an ulcer at the base of my esophagus. They are also testing for a history of Celiac, which is funny because my gastroenterologist told me to stop eating gluten several years ago, and I did. Overall, nothing to worry about, except that my brain needs some kind of stimulant and I am not allowed caffeine. I’ll try regular exercise and see how that goes before resorting to meds.

Crafty Stuff

I’m eco printing more of the Virginia cotton fabric today with black walnut leaves in iron mordant. My goal is black leaves on white for winter project bags for the shop. The mordant left red marks, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Movies… and Fiber Arts

I’m starting to notice knitting needles being used as murder tools in horror movies. Mostly, they are used by women against their attackers. As you can imagine, this makes my little knitting horror heart giddy with glee. Except when they attach a piece of crochet to the knitting needle!

If you are making a movie using a fiber arts tool as a weapon of destruction, but don’t know the difference between knitting and crochet, just stick the knitting needle in a ball of yarn! Or, ask someone who does know. Your mom might know. Let’s keep my suspension of disbelief alive.

Books and Tudors

Why do most works of historical fiction turn into romance novels? I suspect one of the reasons for my fascination with the Tudor period is because it was horrific: beheadings, burnings, plagues, politics. It was dark. I’m sure there may have been some people who fell in love, but had to marry someone else because it was arranged, then fell in love with that person, had lots of babies, most of whom survived, and lived happily ever after. My point is, I don’t read historical fiction because I’m looking for a love story. This honestly is not about any book in particular but more about my personal experience with the genre. Maybe I should stick to nonfiction? I know I’m the outlier here.

You know what I loved? Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy. Damn, that was brutal — just like the times.

Speaking of Tudors, another podcast I like is Not Just the Tudors with Suzannah Lipscomb. Lots of Tudor history but also witches, werewolves, and the most recent episode I listened to was about a 16th Century executioner. It’s always fascinating. I learn something new every time I listen.

I got to hang out with my babies today. They are amazing humans.

I also had knitting nails done today in preparation for my trip to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.

My stepdaughter Sydney does them and she is just amazing. It was good to spend time with her catching up while getting my nails done.

I told Bob that without caffeine and alcohol (not allowed that either) and off meds, I’m going to get weirder and weirder. He said he’d strap in. He’s a keeper. Have a great week!

Year of Projects Week 5/52 — Tansy Hapazome

Fiber Art / Natural Dyeing

I managed to get out into the garden this morning to weed and noticed it’s time to harvest the tansy! Tansy is one of those dye plants with natural tannins like indigo, so it doesn’t need a mordant. I decided to test a Hapazome print on the edges of my remaining indigo printed Virginia cotton.

I’m pleased with how this came out. Now I need to decide if I want to continue to print on this fabric, or order more. I think I will order more, as I want to experiment with black walnut leaves and iron mordant.

I may also kettle dye some Virginia cotton and wool yarn with tansy this week. Since this blend of fibers doesn’t take readily to acid dyes or fiber reactive dyes for plant fibers, a natural dye pot may be just the thing it needs!

My flax is also ready to harvest. There are a few stalks that are already too far gone with ripe seed heads, but most is still ok. So that’s another fiber art project this week.

Knitting

I’m super close to finishing my Halloween Livie shawl. One more section then bind off!

Sewing

I should finish my Gather dress and Bob’s Marvel shirt this week.

Spinning

Since I came down with Covid, I didn’t spin for the last week of Tour de Fleece. I need to oil my wheel and get back to spinning.

This has been a Year of Projects (YOP) update. You can read my updated list here, and my original list at this link. You can find out more about the group on Ravelry or Backstage Kath’s YOP bloggers list.

Garden Update

Madder root?

I’ve been weeding the garden in patches. Today I cleared out the snap pea patch and put in their climbing supports. While most of the deep rooted weeds and vines are gone (there are still a few) we now have hairy cress all over the place. Also some kind of ground cover. So gardening is my exercise this time of year. If I worked out and gardened, that would be it for me!

I accidentally pulled up this plant which I think is madder root. My plant ID app disagreed with me, though. I put it back in the ground, just in case. I wasn’t sure if the madder survived since the indigo overgrew it. I’m pretty sure this little guy is madder, though. Fingers crossed! I might have a little root to dye with this fall if so.

Wednesday WIPs, Including Me

As I transition out of my job, and into focusing on home, my (very) small business, and my creative endeavors, I’ve been struggling to blog. Transitions are hard for me. It’s not that I don’t like change — and this will be a good change. It’s difficult for my nervous system to regulate change. I’m always surprised by the period of paralysis that is inevitable.

I couldn’t wait to cast on my Spring Thaw yarn. I’m making a Bandana Cowl Number 4 by Placemarker. I’m thrilled with the feedback I’ve received on the box. And I’m so grateful to everyone who placed orders, and to the talented makers who partnered with me.

I got a head start on my flax seedlings in my Megs Levesseur Ceramics pot.

I’ve been testing rose wax and lanolin candles for the Wool & Roses Yarn Mystery Box. Only a few days left to order! I can’t wait to see how Kelley at Dye Mad Yarns interprets this colorway in alpaca and silk yarn.

My Vertices Unite is coming along. I want to finish this before April 15, when the Ambah Ocean Moon Mystery Knitalong starts. That’s probably not going to happen, but I’m going to try anyway.

My Arrowhead Cardigan looks much the same. I try to knit a row or two a day, striving to get to the shoulder seams.

I finished the ribbing on my Auchnaha cardigan. I’ll probably put this away for a little while, until I finish Arrowhead. Although, I’d like to be wearing it now!

It’s supposed to be 75 degrees Fahrenheit today, after a low of 19 yesterday. I guess I’d better get my seeds started. I’m going to grow more natural dye plants this year.

What are you working on this week?

Natural Dyeing Experiment with Apple Tree Bark

The first thing you should know is that I basically followed these guidelines. I cut the apple tree prunings into small pieces. I discarded anything old and dead. I soaked them in filtered water for several days. I noticed on Day 2 that the water was a lovely golden color. By Day 4 the water was cloudy and the color was gone. I was worried that my dye bath was past it’s best by date, so this morning I put it all in a pot and boiled it.

As you can see, I basically made some apple tree bark beer. It didn’t smell as good as it sounds. It was putrid, in fact.

I read that apple tree bark dye bath does not require a mordant. Ordinarily, I would go ahead and use one to try for best results. But because I’d made apple tree bark beer and didn’t want to waste perfectly good alum, I decided to try my luck just using the — I want to call it “wort”. Is that correct? That’s probably for something you imbibe. I’m going to use this term anyway. If you know the correct term, please let us know in the comments.

I strained the wort with a colander into a roasting pan with a little more filtered water in it. I added about half of a cup of baking soda because the guidelines said that would make the dye more pink. I stirred it well and added the fiber and yarn. I used merino roving and Cascade Eco yarn, which is Peruvian Highland wool, both natural in color. I covered the pan and put it in a 225 degree oven for three hours.

As you can see, my results are not dramatic. The roving and yarn were natural (compare the undyed roving below) and are now a lovely blushing ivory. I do like it and am planning to knit a cowl with the yarn. I have a lot more apple wood, and I may try it again after mordanting a different yarn with alum.

What do you think? Do you like the results? Have you ever dyed with natural materials? Let us know in the comments!

Saturdye

Today Bob pruned one of our Apple trees and I saved the bark for dyeing. I’ve not done this before but I’ve been doing some research on it.

Our apple trees are old and neglected and they need a good prune. We think we can probably cut them back a little harder, but we’re going to look into it first.

I read that the best part to use is the inner bark and twigs. I focused on the green wood as there was a lot of dead stuff coming off. I have no idea what’s better for dyeing but the green shoots made sense to me.

It was suggested to soak the wood for about a week before using them in a dye bath. I used our double ceramic filtered well water to avoid any metals and other weirdness. I’ve got them sitting in a sunny window. JoJo is curious and also mad that we went outside and didn’t take her with us, which we never do. But if we leave the house, when we come back she yells at us for awhile to express her discontent. Or maybe she is just asking us where we went and why didn’t we take her with us? We’re always telling her it’s not safe out there for her (foxes, coyotes, falcons, crows the size of… well, the same size as JoJo) so she’s probably worried about us when we go outside.

I also dyed some wool with acid dye today. This color is silver and you can see I am able to recreate my results from a few weeks ago. The Merino takes the dye well. The Shetland is middling, and the Romeldale-CVM which is unprocessed and sunbleached takes the least color. I used vinegar in this bath.

L to R: Merino, Shetland, Romeldale-CVM

These will be perfect for my next felt piece which is about a stormy day in Iona, Cape Breton.

I received what I think? is my last installment of my Fairlight Fibers yarn club. I guess she got a little behind on her shipments as I canceled in January after six months, which was what I had originally signed up for. But it kept charging me so I had to go in and manually cancel. I enjoyed this club but wanted to try some new ones. Anyway, this gorgeous yarn is 50/50 alpaca and rose fiber. That’s right. Rose fiber! It’s very soft and has a lovely sheen. Not sure what to make with it. Something special.

I hope you’re having a lovely Saturday, whatever you’re doing. I need to catch up on my Water shawl as all my KAL pals are way ahead of me!