Friday, June 25, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday-Dyeing Fiber with Horsetails, Avocados and Kool Aid

I have spent most of the week holding and bothering the goats, but yesterday and today I decided I must get some dyeing done. So I foraged horsetail ( and gathered up the dried avocado skins I had saved. I spent yesterday mordanting with alum and tartar. I usually weigh the fiber and put 10% alum and 5% tartar in to the simmering water. I prefer to use this mixture for mordanting. It is safe for the environment and I don't have to worry about disposal. Alum provides a wide range of colors and so far I am pleased with the results.

I prepared the dye baths today. First I broke the horsetail into smaller pieces and put them into simmering water. The result was not as promised on the recipe I found. I was expecting green but got a pale yellow instead. Foraging for dye material is never accurate. It all depends upon the time of harvesting, the maturity of the material being picked and length of simmering, etc. I ended up dyeing a batt of hand carded alpaca/romney.
For the avocado skins I was hoping for a bit more beige vs. the pale almost off white color. The dye bath was dark brown and I threw a couple of iron tablets in for good measure. The skein of yarn was sheep and I ended with a slight pink tint.
Then I dyed the rest of the skeins in orange, cherry and pink Kool Aid. The results were great. I was pleased especially with the pink alpaca roving. The two skeins I dyed were hand spun from Bolivia on a hand spindle.

Overall it was productive. I keep detailed records and always clip off a piece of roving or yarn to paste into a scrap book with information regarding the process. It is my reference for future projects. I know in natural dyeing it is unlikely to reproduce the final results, but that is part of the adventure.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New goats

When I went to do barn chores today I found two precious goats with their mommy. I was thrilled. I almost jumped out of my skin. They are so cute. I thought she was never going to deliver. I was late getting to the barn this morning. I think they were probably delivered around 5:30 - 6 am. They were nursing and all was well by the time I intervened. I cleaned up the stall and dipped their umbilical cords in iodine. I tried to clean Moon off a bit and gave her a treat. She was exhausted.
And now I can rest easy as well. Whew.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday-Finally!

This morning I was invited to demonstrate spinning to a group of knitters. I took along my Lendrum wheel and a big, beautiful bag of Blazing Ben alpaca fiber. I also brought a few skeins of alpaca that I spun and some naturally dyed wool. I demonstrated the mechanics of spinning and then each knitter took her turn at the wheel. The girls did a great job and I definitely saw some budding spinners!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Speaking of Gardening...

I have been complaining a lot about weeding. It just doesn't seem to end. The weeds seem to grow faster and denser than the flowers. I am going to remove three of the flower beds with grass so I can spend more time doing the things I enjoy, i.e. Family, fiber and animals. I must say, however, that there are some benefits to gardening once the weeding "caught up." So far I have planted 14 flats of flowers, rows of bush beans, eggplants, leeks, peppers, onions and herbs. I am going to forgo the tomatoes this year after the blight hit last season. When canning salsa I will have to buy a few bushels.

My perennial garden has blossomed early this year. I noticed even the black raspberries are beginning to bear green fruits. I don't usually even think about raspberries until July! With all the negatives of weeding there are benefits to gardening. Here are a few photos of what we are growing on the farm. (This is mostly to keep me motivated as I still have about 2 full days of weeding).

Two Currants

Gorgeous Honeysuckle Vine