About this blog space

This blog space is a place for me to primarily put all my wool gatherings, adventures, experiments. I am now a mum of two astounding daughters, and I used to be a DIY musician and co-ran a tiny independent label (Slampt), so this punk can-do attitude plus feminist analysis and Art school experience somehow informs my wool work! I am also deeply moved by GREEN, trees, weather, colour combinations in nature, and texture. I aim to source wool from round the corner or at the very least UK grown and processed, and to create no toxic waste. This means I get to see sheep as often as I can, sometimes at wool fests.
I am on Ravelry and Etsy as FatHenWildWool and Facebook as Rachel Holborow.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Blue from Cabbage

As dyestuffs become less easy to obtain from weeds in winter, I roam in search of dye from the grocer's shelf. I have recently stumbled accross this ad hoc method for obtaining a blue or sometimes slate blue/grey from red (purple) cabbages:
First get, by whatever means you are comfortable, one to two red cabbages.
Next chop them up until you have enough to fill your Dyepot (Stainless steel is best, as some metals ie iron, aluminium and copper can change your dye colour..). Add enough water to cover cabbage ( rain water is best), then simmer for at least an hour. Strain the cabbage dregs out and put on the compost heap.
The water will be an outrageously gorgeous shade of purple, but that means nothing in the world of plant dyeing. At this point add some (half a bottle?) of vinegar to help the dye bite into the wool.
Let this dyepot sit and cool.
Thoroughly wet your wool to be dyed. But do not agitate it. Be gentle and caressing.
When your dye pot is no more than luke warm you can immerse your wool in it and then slowly (to prevent felting) bring it up to simmering. Simmer for at least 20 mins. Then you can take it off the heat. I like to leave my wool in the pot of dye a least overnight, to ensure a reasonable colour.
Then you can rinse out the dye, and you should have a sort of sky to slate blue. I found with Blue Faced Leicester white tops, I got blue, but The Texel white I dyed at the same time in the same pot came out greyer. Ah, the curious world of plant dyeing....
The photo at the top of this blog entry features BFL dyed with red cabbage, tumeric, exhausted logwood, and onion skins (kindly saved and donated by my local real health food shop Alligator, Thanks).

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Damsons as dye

I unexpectedly had a lot of damsons on my hands.... what could I do when I realised that they'd gone mouldy waiting for me to make them into jam? Simmer them up in some rain water with some vinegar (chip shop sort), strain  the mush off, and dye some wool with them, ofcourse... The above Texel fibre is dyed with Damsons (the rusty bits), and elderberries, and ofcourse urine.
I love this one, and will spin it when it's time expires on Etsy if another fibre enthusiast doesn't get there first...
This fibre, Autumn Glow, also has damson in it, as well as elderberries and docks and madder... And although I'm not  a "yellow" person, I find the combo quite suave. None of this dyeing process was exceptionally smelly, although the damsons did start to get a bit musty before they'd been simmered up. All the waste is composting nicely though... I used Texel wool for both of these two fibres. I love it actually! I am really starting to feel that whilst Merino has a place as a fibre, the bounce and texture of many other wools, are often way more thrilling to me!

Navajo Ply, first attempt!

This is my first ever attempt at Navajo Plying!
Using my birthday money I splashed out and bought some handpainted wool tops (mostly in green of course). This one is from Wheeldale Woolcrafts, and very reasonably priced...
For my birthday I'd also got some books about spinning "Get Spun" by S North, and "Spin Control" by Amy Singer, the first a more"Art" (as opposed to the "primitive" or "punk" yarns I  produced in the beginning..)Yarn how to, the second, an in depth analysis and explaination of all the building blocks of skill, and their reasons for being in the spinning pantheon. These ofcourse have been inspiring me to develop my spinning repertoire, and causing many wide awake small hours brain meanderings of  spinning creativity, as I plot my next yarns... Some ofcourse just happen as they go along...
However, more to the point, the above yarn occured because I could actually UNDERSTAND Amy Singer's directions for Navajo Plying. This, I think, is because she likens it to chain stitch in crocheting, and really in essence that's all it is, a series of both edges of  the loops pulled through each other (in a chain), fairly large, and plied together with the strand you are holding, ofcourse the thing I hadn't previously realised was that Navajo Ply is a 3 ply, NOT a 2 ply! Well it's one Singles Plied on itself into a 3 Ply. Anyway....
It worked out okay, except that it's a little hard to keep the tension on all 3 strands even and sometimes mine crossed over. But when I did my (normal) 3ply sock wool (plant dyed greens, BFL and Cheviot, and natural Texel) I found that a little easier, see? Just above...