Friday, October 29, 2010

Japanese Indigo - Harvest and Seed Production

Not a very focused picture but here is a bunch of cut Japanese Indigo flowering stalks. The weather is getting colder so these are brought into the house so the flowers will make and set seeds.

Japanese Indigo drying on racks. These were a thrift store find - toddler cots. I put toilet paper tubes on the feet to make more space between each level. After the leaves are dry I'll separate the stalks (those go in the regular compost) and compost the leaves in a burlap-lined bucket. Then form into cakes and dry. This preserves the pigment. It would be better if I could dry these outside in the sun but we aren't getting much of that at this time of year!

Friday, September 24, 2010

First Autumn Harvest

It is past the Autumn Equinox so it is now officially Fall. We did have some nice sunny afternoons earlier this week. Then rain. Today is overcast.

From the garden by the house:
1. A few Japanese Indigo stalks that look like they're getting ready to bloom, put in a jar of water so I can bring them inside if it gets too cold. They should root and bloom and then I can collect seeds.

2. Mars Marigold (T. patula). Four blossoms only. Only one of these plants survived the slugs. Put in freezer.

3. Coreopsis grandiflora (the perennial type I hope). Added a handful of blossoms to the bag in freezer.

From the farm:
1. Tururu Marigold (T. erecta). Added a large handful of blossoms to jar soaking in alcohol and water. I didn't even buy these seeds until June and it took them awhile to get going. Now they are two feet tall and the flowers are big and bushy.

2. Pink Dahlia flowers. All dahlias make a variety of yellow and golden yellow. Added several large blossoms to bag in freezer.

3. Several Japanese Indigo stalks. Some with the rounded leaves and some with the pointed leaves. Put these into the jar with the ones from the garden.

4. Hawthorn twigs and leaves (and a few berries). Put these to soak in water in a rectangular slow-cooker that is about 8"x12".

5. Weld leaves. Into freezer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Blue Blue

This skein was mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. Indigo doesn't need mordanting but maybe it brightens the color.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Indigo Yarns

1) Alpaca/Wool Bouclé: First dip in a reduction vat. Second dip in a direct cold water/vinegar vat.
2) Hand-spun Mohair: Two dips in two different cold water/vinegar vats.
3) Merino: one dip in a cold water/vindgar vat. Will get a second dip.
4) Alpaca/Silk: First dip in a reduction vat. Second dip in a cold water/vinegar vat.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Indigo Harvest

Today I harvested 1050 grams (2.25 lbs) of Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium, also known as Persicaria tinctoria). Here is the 2 gallon bucket with the cut stems:

I picked off the leaves into a gallon plastic bag for weighing, then cut them up with kitchen shears:

and stuffed them into a half gallon canning jar and filled it with warm water. Then I put the jar into a canning pot on a hotplate set to heat no higher than 100F to let it ferment overnight:

The next bag (250 g) I put into a 2 1/2 gallon plastic bucket with cold water. I'll add vinegar and macerate by hand to extract the color:

I also have 250g in a yogurt maker with water but it doesn't seem to be heating up much. I should have started with warm water. This is supposed to ferment too. I have just read a recipe for dyeing the fiber right away in the fermented liquid without beating it to oxygenate and then reducing it again. The fermentation splits the indican into indoxyl and glucose with carbon dioxide escaping as bubbles.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Green from Red

I soaked this skein some more in the Red Blend Vat and then made a new one with the rest of the flowers I had collected. It is a little darker and not as yellow. I'm really not sure I like this color, but it depends on the light. The plan is to dye a skein of Pygora singles a similar but not exactly the same color and then ply the two skeins together. I could put them both into a Coreopsis vat or I could wait for the carrot tops to mature and try a green vat for the Pygora.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Green from Red

Here is the result of a steeped dye vat (well, half gallon canning jar) of mixed red flowers from the garden. Red lilies, pink Poppies, and an unidentified red wildflower. The fiber is Mohair and Alpaca.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Blog Design

I love maps so I couldn't resist changing to this template. My fibers are not coming from around the world though. I've set a geographical source area of the Pacific Northwest including east of the Cascades. It's a very different climate better suited to Angora goats (Mohair) and Cashmere (also goats). I do have wool ready to spin that came from small farms in Ohio and Iowa, and Mohair from Texas in addition to very local island wool.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Farmers Market High Fiber & Fine Yarns Event 2010

Natural dyeing demonstration -A pot of Marigold Flower Extract

A pot of Scotch Broom Flowers

A pot of Eucalyptus Leaves (Red Iron Bark type)

Hanging to dry

Long Draw on the Canadian Production Wheel

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Waiting for Sprouts

I've started seeds in pots in the mini-greenhouse. This isn't a heated greenhouse so maybe is really a cold-frame. There are five shelves. I've planted:
Japanese Indigo from three different sources
Dyer's Coreopsis

Directly into the garden by the house:
Japanese Indigo
Yellow Cosmos
Dyer's Coreopsis

I'm hoping the Yellow Cosmos and Dyer's Coreopsis will reseed themselves.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My husband's report - back in December

"Enable at your peril."

Friday was Laurel's birthday. Yesterday we drove through four counties and rode two ferries to look at a Canadian Production Wheel (cited so frequently on her knitters' forum that it is abbreviated as CPW). The wheel itself is half Laurel's height.
Although our part of the country hasn't been hit with the snow and rain that has reached so much of the U.S., it has been setting records for cold, and the dryness has to end soon. I was concerned that we reach the home of the seller and return to ours before moisture on the roads turns to black ice. I've spun out on black ice with an old Lambretta and I've wrecked a friend's car being the puck in an unwelcome game of Giant Table Shuffleboard, bouncing back and forth against guard rails on a moonlit country road in New England. I've reached my quota of black ice incidents.
Still, although Laurel pushed me out of bed for an early start, we had a few chores along the way. Find a transfer station and empty the recycling; find a bank and get some cash; eat. We reached their island after crossing the narrow channel on the tiny ferry. Directions to their home were great, and we found the house easily, with banners hanging. Artwork was everywhere - sculpture, plaques, a tiny pond. Although we'd been told this had been a manufactured home, we could barely discern the old lines and were romanced by the cedar shakes and shingles making up the siding and roofing. The interior, once we'd been greeted by a hug from the seller and a friendly "Hi, I'm Leo" from her husband, continued the explosion of art. The walls had been plastered over and painted with colors like buttercup and ochre. A wood stove pumped heat.
Jane, the seller, brought the wheel from one room out by the stove, found an armless chair for Laurel, and we all plumped down. Laurel had brought her buyer's preparedness kit (tape, wire, ruler, wool-to-spin, and more and more). She looked up and down and underneath, searching for a maker's mark, examining the wheel itself for true (relying on her many years of bicycling experience), stifling her visible enthusiasm, checking out the wrought iron footpad of the treadle.

Knowing that the best course for me was to keep my mouth shut, I asked if I could look at the art on the walls. Leo enthusiastically guided me through and into his workshop and his studio. He explained piece after piece (paintings using gold leaf and oxidized composite gold leaf; poured brass sculpture; huge carvings of eagles and turtles from burled wood; epoxy forms gold-leafed and oxidized). Everywhere some beautiful piece to catch the eye.

Meanwhile Laurel had tweaked a bobbin here, a hook there, spun wool she'd brought along, laughed and spun, chatted and spun, calculated and spun. I politely tapped my wristwatch and Leo volunteered the time of the next ferry to leave. I believe that none of us was surprised when Laurel hauled out her crisp bills and agreed to pay Jane. She hadn't haggled much (they had already brought the price down by a third through email correspondence) -- Jane agreed to throw in a huge bag of fleece. (Laurel's insisting that I look at the fleece right now.) Leo and I hauled the wheel out and carefully placed it in the pickup, piling cardboard here, bag O'fleece there, propping up the wheel and securing it.

The little ferry off their island was very late -- we saw a Medic van drive by and speculate that they had emptied the ferry and then reloaded it to get the van at the front. Finally we boarded, the little ferry churned across the short passage, and we wound our way toward the Interstate full of returning holiday shoppers. Our own ferry was on schedule and we got home, carried the wheel inside to join Laurel's two others and another one she had borrowed. We ate leftovers from the Indian restaurant where I'd taken her for her birthday, she rushed to the computer to write her own report (much more knitting-relevant than this one) and we toddled off to bed.

This morning she got up before I did (a rare occurrence) and started playing with her toy (advice had poured in overnight on care and treatment of her CPW). Anytime now she'll eat breakfast or lunch or whatever.

She promises that she won't need another wheel.

Enable at your peril.