Sometimes your new dyes look like you’ve dyed a fresh batch of farm eggs. Easter Eggers are some of my favorite chickens, who doesn’t love blue and green and brown eggs? The crisp pale green of Dame’s Rocket dye and soft buttery browns of Xanthoria lichen immediately brought those eggs to mind. What do you think?
I’ve been hard at work in the dye studio, and the first fruits of the spring dyeing are ready to go! Head over to my etsy shop to check out the available yarn!
My dear friend Sister Jane and I like to have what we call “fiber play dates.” We get together out at Heartland Farm, grab some fiber, then hit the woods to see what dyes we can turn up.
This particular day, we were lucky enough that the ground was nice and soft, so we decided to finally try out Curly Dock. Most species in the Rumex genus are said to give some sort of color – usually yellows, although I’ve found some sources that claim the Plains Native Americans were able to get reds from this plant as well.
We grabbed some tools and headed to the alpaca pasture. Unfortunately, alpaca don’t really care to eat dock, so it’s been spreading a bit uncontrollably. We dug roots for almost half an hour and barely made a dent!
After washing the roots and pounding them with a mallet (we got out a lot of pent up political aggression!) we set the roots to boil while we prepared our fiber. We did a standard alum mordant, and after we saw good color in the dyebath, popped in the fiber. Next time, I’d like to soak the roots overnight to see if we could get a richer color out of them. I do love the creamy golden brown that showed up even with this quick dyebath!
One of my favorite past times is teaching – whether it’s spinning, knitting, dyeing, or other crafts. Sharing information and techniques just makes me happy, and if you can’t tell from the above photo, I get a little excited about it.
FiberSpace is a great program run by the sisters at Heartland Farm, and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited as a teacher this year. In addition to helping a couple of new spinners along, I did a short dyeing demo to introduce the workshop participants to the concepts of hand dyeing. We kettle dyed with kool-aid, hand painted a skein with food colors, and looked at a whole lot of naturally dyed samples.
Besides the fun and camaraderie of fellow fiber folks, the other great thing about FiberSpace is the chance to hang out with the Heartland Farm alpacas. They’re such curious, fascinating critters – I never get tired of watching them goof around.