Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Second try with Woad

Last year I tried my hand at growing some woad and only got one plant. From that I dyed some yarn with it, that yarn came out a light blue.

This year I planted more woad and was successful with it and got five strong plants. With that I also planted Chinese woad which did not grow not as large as the English woad put still useable.

So I thought that it would be fun to do a caparison with last years and this years to see the differences. To recap last year I sun dyed and only used the leaves from one plant. This year I used the leaves from five plants and a small amount of Chinese woad. Lets see what the differences may be.

I wasn’t able to sun dye this year it was just to cloudy and with it becoming later in the season. I didn’t want to risk getting a freeze before I was able to make the dye. So this year I made the dye inside with about a hundred twenty degree water or so and left it set for a couple of hours.

I never figured out the weight of woad I was using I just filled a quart jar tight with leaves. to the point water wasn’t getting in there. If I had to give a guess I would say there was close to a pound of fresh leaves. Do understand that I am only taking a guess at that.

I had to use a gallon jar this year since there waPA250006s just so much more dye to the point of having two thirds of a gallon this year, compared to one quart of dye last year. This years dye in the first stage was a very dark burgundy. That it looked black in the jar I was using to measure with. Last year it was a burgundy color that was translucent, not that case this year.



I used the gallon jar to add the are into the dye to change it to blue indigo or I guess in this case blue woad. I transferred PA250007it back to the quart jar for a picture. The interesting thing is that both this year and last year after adding the air into, it turned it to a very dark green. so dark it looked black. With a foamy bear head from the small amount of detergent which helps the woad to penetrate the wool. ( If you look at both pictures above you maybe able to see the above right is burgundy and the lower left is a blue green color, both very dark but still a definite color difference.)


Last year I had Spectralite which I still have but since it is more then a year old, it most likely won’t work since the shelf life is only one year. P6230016So to play it safe I got some Rit color remover to remove the oxygen from the vat(the active ingredient in this is Spectralite).  Last years dye turned a neon yellow very bright and almost blinding. I will say that I thought I did something wrong, since I thought it way going to be a green color not yellow. So of course I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. Which of course was nothing.



This years took a little longer to turn back into white woad but it worked and again it turned a yellow so I guess that's the color its supposed to be.PA250008 Sorry for the poor picture of this point, the jar isn’t clear and wasn’t showing up properly. So I decided to take a pick from top down manly bubbles but a small area of the dye itself.





Now the fun was going to begin because with all that woad I should have a good dark color,  or at least thats my hope. Last year the yarn came out a neon yellow, but turned green then to blue. With this picture you can even see a small amount of blue at the right. The color didn’t fully develop until it was out for a minute or two. 




This year the yarn came out not so neon but defiantly yellow. Again it took a minute or two to become developed. There's the yellow to green, it’s hard to see any of the blue in the sing but it is there starting to turn.




P6230019The last comparison is the final color last year a very pretty light blue, not an ugly color at all, just light. I was fine with that, I would have like to have a darker color but at least I got blue. The two skeins to the left are cotton and linen. The light blue on the right is wool which is what I dyed this year. So did I get a darker color this year or was I disappointed. For you to find out just look below and see for your self.




Yes I did get a very nice medium blue, which is very pretty. If you would like to read the inn's and outs of how I did this last year just lookup woad in last years list and you can read all about it.





Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fiber Fest

This past Friday Ed and I went to the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival in Ridgewood, NJ. It is a small fiber fest but just because it is small doesn't mean that it isn’t good. There where weavers, spinners, knitters, tatters and lace makers. Demonstrations on felt making, crochet, bobbin lace, knitting, weaving, spinning and quilt making.

While I was there I got to spin some Lama which I never got to do before. What was even coolerChuckSpin was I got to use a double treadle wheel for the first time which was so fun, and I must say I think easier to use and control. But it could have been the euphoric  state I was in trying it out. The Lama to my surprise was almost as soft as Alpaca, very easy to spin, also being a little slippery like Alpaca so it requires more twist. At least the sample that I was working on was that way.

While I was walking around I stopped of at the lace guilds table. Micheline Hodge was demonstrating bobbin lace. I must confess I have always been intrigued about bobbin lace. So it was a natural attraction and she made it look so easy. We will have to see, maybe I will take a class one of these days.

While I was there I did pick up some things for myself. Three new books, The Yarn Book by Penny Walsh, The Spinners Companion by Bobbie Irwin and Handspinner’s Handbook by Bette Hochberg. I just finished the Yarn Book, which I liked a lot there is a lot of history in the book, with a section on different yarns and evenPA040001 different fabrics with definitions. I haven’t read the other to books yet but I’m sure I will like them as well.

I also picked up a couple of new spindles. I was in the market for a new drop spindle, then I found this supported spindle. PA040003 I have to practice more with the supported spindle until I get the hang of it. The drop spindle works like a dream.

I had a really good time Friday before I headed off to work, That is one of the hard things living in the area that I there aren't that any fiber related activities. You are forced to drive out of the area to attend one. Maybe one day there will be one in this area.

Inkle Loom Upgrade

About a year or so ago I made an inkle loom from PVC pipe. The pattern came from Handwoven magazine, if you look through the blog history you will find a posting of it.

I made the loom to the specifications of the magazine article. It works just as is, but I wasn’t happy with how the warp lade over the castle bar, both heddle and open warp strands.

So to fix my little problem I deP8100001cided to create a second  shorter castle, so the loom now has a double castle. What this does is it creates a cross of warp strands, which helps with the tension. This also gives the open warp threads the ability to move more freely.

The way you warp the loom now is starting from the fabric beam over the first castle bar, under the second castle bar, around the back beam to the front beam, underP8100002 the first castle bar, over the second castle bar, to the back beam, then to the front bar and you continue this way until you are done warping.

The one disadvantage is you need to remove the vertical side pieces of the castle so you are able to do the cross. The rest of the setup is the same and the weaving is the same. This little experiment worked out very well for me and hopefully or may be help someone else.