Friday, 18 June 2010

Woolfest - is it really less than a week away???

Just a short post as the dyestudio feels like a two-woman (me and Mum) production-line at the moment (!) but I wanted to mention that we'll be doing a Woolfest voucher for newsletter subscribers again this year. As last year, you'll just need to print off the newsletter with the voucher info, bring it along to the stall and claim your discount on any purchases - "simples" ; )

(If you' re not on the subscriber list, there's still time to sign up as the newsletter won't be going out until next week. Just click on the box on the website home page or email

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Dye garden - my first woad plant!

Although space is at a premium in our little garden, I've been wanting to grow dyeplants for quite some time. Regular readers will know that I am carefully nurturing a little madder plant (fingers crossed it's still doing well!). I also found out that I have some goldenrod at the back of one of the borders which was a nice surprise. A friend of Mum's has very kindly offered to germinate some other dyeplant seeds for me so hopefully that will be a success. But what I have managed to grow is some woad!

If you recall, this is how it looked in early Spring...

And this is it a now!

Well, of course I realise now that I should have harvested the leaves last year but my little plant looked far too tiny and delicate so I thought I'd wait - oops! Anyway, the flowers have now almost finished and it is producing lots of seeds so I'm going to collect some and see if I can get these to grow for next year. I may harvest the leaves anyway rather than let them go to waste. I'm determined to make my own woad balls so these might be good for practising the technique even if they don't produce much colour. Watch this space.....

Indigo and woad workshop pics

We had a fab time last Saturday producing fabulous indigo and woad-dyed yarns and fabrics. With a small group it's great as everyone gets to make their own vat from scratch and we can do lots of overdyeing. Jayne's t-shirts above were a combination of tie-dye and overdye using logwood purple and woad (nearest two) and indigo (farthest away).

We used some interesting combinations of colours for our samples - Quebracho red, Cochineal, Persian berries, Weld and Coreopsis.

The cochineal in particular was really interesting. After mordanting the yarn in alum and dyeing it in the cochineal extract (one of my personal faves!), we divided the yarn into separate bundles and modified one with cream of tartar, one with acid and one with alkali. You can see the fascinating results we achieved with the modifiers and then how they interacted with the indigo and woad to give some beautifully subtle variations of blue/purple/lavender and the like. Reading across in order, top left to right we have.....

Top row: Cochineal with cream of tartar, Cochineal with alum, Cochineal with acid, Cochineal with alkali, Persian berries, Weld, Quebracho red, Coreopsis.

Middle row: Each of the above overdyed with woad

Front row: Each of the top row overdyed with indigo.

The photo doesn't bring out the subtleties in tone of the colours but they were really beautiful. If you're at Woolfest, I'll have the samples with me so do ask to have a look. It's quite fascinating to see the variations, especially in the yellow-based extracts as it's easy to think they are all the same, but they really do have different qualities, although sometimes it's more obvious when they are combined with other extracts.

I've uploaded some more workshop pics here if you'd like to see more : )

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Club pics catch-up - April - Delphinium

Erm, have to hold my hands up here and say that, contrary to the name, this month's colourway was inspired, not by the beautiful plant, but by a stack of multi-coloured plastic crates in lovely shades of blue and purple that I use for packing stuff for shows (anyone know the emoticon-thingy for embarrassed?). As "purple and blue plastic crates from Wilkinsons in the sale" didn't sound very arty, I chose a more aesthetically pleasing name - hope no-one minds!

Anyway, the sock yarn was in my brand new, alpaca/wool/nylon blend. I'm tempted to borrow the words from a well-known advert (the one with the cute puppy - soft, strong and very... - well, you know the one), but it really is super-soft, with strength from the nylon, sproinginess from the wool and softness, wearability and lustre from the alpaca. I've been making both sock weight and DK weight socks in this yarn and it is heavenly to knit with. (Look out for the new DK sock pattern collection at Woolfest).

Roving medley this month was Bluefaced Leicester - one of my favourite all-round great fibres.

And for Fibre Adventure club members there was Bluefaced Leicester roving, merino/silk blend top and a bundle of floofy texel fleece.

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