Thursday, September 12, 2013

Today's Special

I have been dyeing, naturally. What makes this different to previous sessions is that I am using cotton cloth as well as wool yarn. Most of the material have been gathered within a few miles of home. The leaves of the smooth sumac served as the tannin mordant for the cloth, along with iron oxide made from a hot dog sized piece of iron I found by the railroad tracks and copper from Carol Leigh. I could have made my own, but I already has these crystal chunks. I also mordanted the tannin and copper fabrics in alum and cream of tarter. The yarn, white and tan Fisherman's wool from Lion Brand, was mordanted in alum or copper. After dye modifiers will be iron, copper, and ammonia. I have 22 fat quarters of cotton and 30 hanks of wool, each about 40 yards.

Dye stuffs so far: wild grape leaves, sassafras leaves, elm bark, onion skins, and goldenrod. Dyestuff hopefuls: walnut hulls, birch leaves, blackberry stems, curly dock root, ivy leaves, carolina creeper leaves, and sunflower heads.

Pokeberry is a special case and requires a whole 'nuther method. I use what is called Rita Buchanan's Pokeberry recipe, and it makes a deep crimson/pinky red/pink color depending on the strength of the dye bath. A friend gave me a small bag of berries, which I didn't think would do much, but the first 1.5 ounces of white wool took the color deeply, so I wound off another ounce, which is turning out a little lighter. I intend to exhaust the dye bath - I have another 5.5 ounces of wool I can use. I do have a volunteer poke plant in my back yard, and I am getting 6-10 ripe berries every day, so into the pot they go.

In my little neighborhood, full of older homes and mature trees, I have identified these;

  1. elm
  2. paper birch
  3. sassafrass
  4. white ash
  5. sycamore
  6. sweet gum
  7. mimosa
  8. yellow poplar
  9. bass wood
  10. catawpa
  11. willow
  12. bald cypress
  13. numerous oaks
  14. numerous maples
And no Bradford Pears. How cool is that?