Fun with bundle dyeing

Recently I’ve had a real buzz from playing about with eco-printing, aka bundle dyeing. I’ve been doing this in a small way for a while with the Palliser Ridge Romney lambswool and wanted to try a different yarn base with the flowers and bits and bobs of foliage I’d gathered up. 

I knew, more or less, what I wanted the result to look like and had figured out how that ought to be achievable based on what I have observed from my dye pots over the last couple of years. As well I’m really grateful that other talented dyers write books, share video clips, pictures and stories of what they do – it all adds to developing my knowledge and practice of natural dyeing.

This time I used a fingering weight plied Merino (treated for machine washability) yarn base (expertly made by Wild Earth Yarns in Christchurch), and prepared it using a standard wash and Alum (plus Cream of Tartar) mordant process. While damp I inserted a planned selection of the plant material – one combination to give me bright bursts of colour amongst swampy neutrals and the other for a medley of bright floral colours on a light, but not quite white, background.

Freshly picked marigolds and coreopsis flowers, dried dahlia heads (these ones were blood red flowers dried to a dark purplish colour), Harakeke (flax) seed-pods, alder cones and 3 varieties of dried Eucalyptus gum leaves.As well I used ground cochineal grits saved in the cloth I use for filtering the cooked cochineal from a previous dye day. I cut this into strips and wound it into the skein.

A pair of skeins for each colour combination – wrapped in gardeners frost cloth and lightly tied. One pair into a pot of dilute flax seed pod dye jus and the other into a pot of avocado pip and skin dye jus. Both brews had been prepared for a previous dye day and the left over jus frozen, and thawed for today.After an hour (ish) at required temperature the bundles were gently removed, drained and cooled slightly before opening to reveal the colours. This is so exciting. The colours and blends are MAGIC.

The results of this play are some of my best I think.

The intensity of colour from the fresh coreopsis and marigolds is fabulous and the dried dahlia heads have imparted a definite greenish grey that is a wonderful combination with the various brown-neutral tones of the flax seed pod and Eucalyptus leaves.

The success of this is just what I needed to inspire me to do more and better still.

Here is a swatch of the bundle that was dyed in the flax seed pod jus. I’ve now finished making a Love Note sweater with this yarn held together with a strand of beige mohair that I had in my stash.


Constancy

Well, hasn’t 2020 turned out to be a roller coaster! When 2019 ticked over into 2020 COVID-19 wasn’t on my to do list for the new year. But we all had to band together and do it.

To balance out the downhills I’ve had some absolute highlights – being mother-of-the-groom in January, becoming a second-time Nana in June,

and being part of the Palliser Ridge Country Calendar episode that screened last Sunday on TV1 NZ. It is a real privilege to be part of the Palliser Ridge story. I always talk about the good hands who touch the wool on its way from farm to yarn, and Country Calendar offers you the chance to see them in action.

Filming Country Calendar episode 23 Spinning a Yarn

Watching the episode reminded me how grounding nature is – the seasons arrive as expected, a constant cycle in the midst of turmoil. This week I’ve gathered seaweed washed up on the beach for the garden, I’ve weeded, pruned roses and dyed a batch of yarn a beautiful light olive green – spring green. The sure signs of impending spring are all about.  It feels good.  And as I’m writing this I’m enjoying watching the blackbirds flit and swoop about the garden. We have a birdbath and it’s popular – there’s frequently a queue to use it, thought it’s not in the slightest an orderly queue.

The thing is though, no matter the season there is always something to enjoy, and particularly for me, colours that set off my imagination and inspire what I want to try and create in the dye pots. Last year’s winter pruning inspired me to make these colours to partner with the Palliser Ridge rustic brown.

This daisy at a gatepost along the road from our place set me off on a pink and yellow path early last spring

and then my hydrangeas said try this…….

I’m percolating on another idea now, it will take a bit of organising and experimenting to see if i can make it work. For now, here’s a clue……

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Madder

The urge to re-start blogging has been nagging away in the back of my mind for some time.  I really enjoyed blogging when I lived in Paris, (keirybeesparis) it made me look at Parisian life with thoughtful eyes and even more importantly was the best way to keep me in touch with friends and family at home and stave off the pangs of homesickness. The knitting community here was really developing, Wei Siew @Kiwiyarns was blogging about so many interesting people and yarns and I was itching to return and immerse myself in the local yarn-and-craft community. It is a hugely important part of my life, the connections and friendships fill my heart and I’m thrilled at how this community continues to flourish. (BTW, @kiwiyarns is writing on her blog again too, hooray.)

 

Now, with rāhui we’re ensconced in our bubbles and the need for community is feeling strong. img_6438I’m missing my little mokopuna; for the last year, 3 days every week, my toddler granddaughter has been a chirpy (and all-consuming) “helper” from early morning until evening while Mama and Papa went out to work. But our bubbles are separate and I have time to indulge that urge to start writing and fill the void.

 

I think I want to write about natural dyeing, my garden, wool, knitting and crochet projects, maybe some sewing too if I keep up my newly developing skills, pretty much all the mahi that is keeping me occupied, helping me feel that I’m still being useful somehow and in control of my day. Do let me know if you have a thought about something I could write about.

 

I’ll start with something I’m literally tickled salmon-pink with. Read More