Thursday, 30 June 2011

Just a quickie!

Just to remind you that Fibrefest is happening at Bicton College in August and that I will be doing a mini-silk spinning course during the event. If anyone wants to come and try their hand at spinning this most wonderful fibre, look at for details

Monday, 27 June 2011

Another Monday

The weeks whizz round so fast and each new Monday brings with it the knowledge that everything I needed to do last week still awaits me...

I had a fantastic time at Devon Weavers' Workshop, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, learning all about lampas. Jette Vandermeidan is certainly the best tutor I have ever had, and I've had the benefit of doing classes with some of the most highly regarded in the world! So, I am really enjoying the workout my poor old brain has had - doing two seperate warps that sometimes interlock and sometimes don't, each capable of weaving two structures and all the possibilities that offers, has been a bit of a shock to the system! Pictures when I am happy with the samples.

Yesterday I travelled to the other side of the moor to teach a dye workshop at Organic Arts. We had a fantastic time, got lots of colour from the plants growing on the farm and I was pleased to have a squizz at the new dye garden. I have given them some madder and Japanese indigo, so hopefully that will get them off to a good start. Wonderful to see how the dye garden movement is taking off in this part of the UK.

We dyed with weld, madder, woad, oak, ash, beech, willow, nettle, onion skin, and then overdyed some of the yellows and the madder with woad to get purples and greens. Fantastic! And the weather was wonderful, too.

The caterpillars are growing away, doing their thing quietly. I have high hopes that my Eri eggs will hatch and give me the option to continuously brood this species, as their silk is good. They eat evergreen pivet, so I can feed them all year round.

The plan for this week is to get lots of dyeing done for a school fair on Friday - my little gradaughter's school, so all the stops pulled out, and to make a start on an exhibition project. Will also need to fit in gardening, washing, housework, etc, so don't expect to hear from me for a while....

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Rainy Sunday

Summer is on a break at the moment here in gloomy Devon.

Last weekend I taught a very successsful session on indigo in a tent at Bovey Tracey Contemporary Craft Fair, an event that gets better with each passing year. The indigo vat did what it was supposed to do and the participants had some lovely dyed fabrics to take away.

On Saturday I gave a talk on natural dyeing to Devon Guild of WS&D, followed by a workshop the next day.

We used two yellows, weld and dhak; two reds, madder and red lac; and we had a natural indigo reduction vat on the go as well. Considering we started with unmordanted fibre/yarn and only had 6 hours, the group achievement was excellent. We dyed protein fibres, cellulose fibres, yarns and fabric. We painted top, painted yarn and immersion dyed and did colour mixing, when the indigo came into its own. There are photos, but sadly I didn't take them! If anyone likes to send them to me, I will post them on here

The skein below was painted with weld and red lac extract, covering some white areas in clingfilm to prevent the colour spreading into the white. It was well wrapped, steamed and then dipped in indigo to produce the blues, greens and purples. Careful measuring of the dye extracts to provide the required depth of colour without wasting any resulted in an almost clear rinse - there was a minute trace of the red lac but that was probably unavoidable.

Lac, weld and indigo skein, both sides

Friday took me to Cornwall Guild, once more in the rain and wind, to do a Whacky Fibres workshop. The group had taken advantage of the recent Wingham Wools visit to stock up on all manner of weird and wonderful fibres so we had plenty to choose! We worked from one picture, chosen by the group, everyone selected a some fibres that they thought related to the picture and then we made a giant batt (or several!) on an Ashford Wild Carder and some rather more sedate batts on a Barnett. The batts were divided, spun according to individual preferences, and then the yarns were put back around the picture. We found, as usually happens with this exercise, that every element of the picture was represented - colour, texture and form. That said, I'm not sure that there were any obvious uses for this collection but the aim was to get people really looking at the relationship between the fibres and image. There was great excitement and soon the students were rushing off to repeat the exercise with their own pictures....

A similar exercise from a class in The Hague is illustrated on our Creative Spinning blog.

I've finally got round to photographing the walnut leaf dye yarns.

The darker skein and silk have been dyed in the walnut leaf liquid with no mordant and the lighter skein and silk have been pre-mordanted with alum and CoT. There is a more tobacco-like colour to the unmordanted skein and it is definitely more of a yellow brown than one would expect from the hulls. The alum seems to have increased the yellow potential and though the baths were split equally, so that the strengths were the same, the mordanted skein looks as though it has been in an exhaust of the first!

On the silkworm front, I have some S.Ricini cats coming along nicely and some a.pernyi getting very fat...The Eri moths are mating and laying so I hope that I can continuously brood this variety but we will have to wait and see how it goes.

I'm hoping the rain will keep away long enough for a jaunt round some Open Gardens this afternoon, my reward for spending yesterday doing a stock-take at the studio!