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.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Grass and docks as dye plus Secret santa yarn

This top fibre is a recent experiment in plant dye colours. As always I am on the search for ways to obtain greens. I don't know exactly why I'm so obsessed with that colour, but perhaps it has to do with chakra colours! The green chakra relates to the chest/ heart area, and as I understand it the area of the body concerned with being open hearted and love. But maybe green just makes me happy!
Anyway, so to get the greenish yellow in the photo, I used dock roots, freshly dug from the allotment in a hope of having fewer docks scattering their seeds over my veg patch this year. These I cut up quite small and let steep in rain water for a few days. Then I remembered about them, and simmered the pot for about 40 mins on the stove. Then later that day I re-simmered them. Then I let them rest over night, and re-simmered them. Then, when the mixture had cooled, I strained out the veg matter, and mud, and inserted the wetted wool (Texel in this case for sox spinning) I heated the wool in the mixture 2 times in a similar fashion to extracting the colour from the dock roots.I added the juice of 2 lemons before heating. I let the wool rest in the dyepot over night. The crucial thing is to get as much colour as poss out of the docks, then to get as much as poss into the wool, without felting it. This takes as long as it takes, and letting the wool rest in the mixture is very much part of it!
Extracting and dyeing with the liquid from the grass was a very similar process to the dock roots, but the heated up grass REALLY STANK the HOUSE out! I don't know WHAT is in grass to make it so smelly when cooked but it honestly smelled of carnivore excrement. Yuck! My husband and the kids were NOT impressed. However, Fay was very keen on having the finished fibre when it was all dry and fluffy and not smelly.... In the photo the colours look more vibrant than they do in cloudy daylight, as they were taken on our table at night under artificial light.
 The other photo is WHAT I SPUN from the secret santa fibre I received from the UKSpinners on the Ravelry forum.(see a previous post). It was blended with various reds and silky noils and throwsters waste etc. None of the baby batts were more than 50% red. I'm currently really interested in how green combines with other colours, but especially reds. There is an exciting section with cocoons spun on, which I loved doing! It's a soft, slightly overspun, singles of 16 WPI (fingering weight). And I am currently intending to knit it into a cowl in the round. I am hoping that it's slightly overspun quality might make the stockingette twist a little, but I don't know if that happens after you've set the twist?


  1. Thanks! I was kid of hoping you might tell us more about you're experiences with grass dye! Why does it smell SO bad?