20 March 2014

tasmanian devil & easter socks

I had a bit of luck rummaging the local secondhand store; a tasmanian wool cardigan, never worn, just a tiny hole that needed mending. Gathering dyeing material in February isn't exactly the most thrilling experience, but using what is a hand (seeing the potential where you think there is none) is fun. Blackberry leaves were still plentiful, and I had some dusty smoke bush twigs forgotten in a corner of the scullery. I also found a rhubarb stalk with seeds - and a quick sweep of the floor in the barn, where Nissen slept during Yule, provided me with some dried spruce needles (in company with some dust bunnies and whatnot). I'm not particular, so I used it all.

Easter socks: placed red onion skins in the socks, rolled them up and dumped them in a jar with some avocado skin and chopped up pit, a spoonful of ash from the mass oven, covered with water and placed in a windowsill for a few weeks. Looking a bit like easter eggs. I shall dance in them if I'm invited to a grand easter party!

19 March 2014

fermenting indigo the natural way

For many years, I was happy and content dyeing with plants found practically under my feet. Sometimes, when studying dusty old dyeing books, I saw intimidating indigo recipes, which required purchase and use of chemicals I couldn't pronounce, and even less understand the effects and consequences of. So I didn't make blues, even though it's a favourite colour of mine. But didn't care that much, really, there's a big world of colours, besides blue.

There's a time for everything. The blues started growing in my own garden, and then I just had to go with the flow. A new world  opened up to me through the japanese indigo, and now I've even begun flirting with the 'real thing'. There are - and has been, for generations and generations - ways of fermenting indigo, that are not harmful to the environment. It's like fermenting food, just a tad more smelly

Above is a vat I started approximately 2 weeks ago, and since then it has come alive and developed a copper film on top of the vat, standing on the warm bench of our mass oven. The recipe is from here; and it goes as follows:

· 50 grams of finely ground indigo

· 28 grams finely ground madder root

· 28 grams regular old wheat bran (I made it by milling and sifting some grain of wheat)

· 170 grams washing soda

After mixing the ingredients and placing the bucket (with lid) a warm place, all you have to do is gently stirring once a day.
Some of the initial testings - oh, the possibilities, I'm so looking forward to play with this ...

A simple ami shawl and hat (modified with a crochet rim) made with homegrown
 japanese indigo.