Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Dyer's Knotweed Comparison and Romney Hood update

For the past 2 days I've been harvesting and dyeing with Polygonum Tinctorium or Dyer's Knotweed. The first Knotweed dye vat yielded good results: a decent amount of medium coloured blue. There was a lot of pigment left, so this time I decided to do a comparison of methods I've been using. Two days ago I harvested 650 gms of leaves and put them in a stainless steel pot, inside a second pot to make a double boiler - as I had earlier in Aug.

The results were somewhat disappointing to say the least. The dye liquor foamed up but stayed a dull, dirty brown. The brand new container of Thiox I bought was clumped and obviously not fresh. That was also disappointing. The vat never really reduced properly and these were my results.. okay, I guess but not what I'd expected.

Doing the second vat also allowed me to see for certain if the Thiox was stale. I used the method I'd used several years ago which I was impressed with. It's pretty much straight out of Buchannan's A Dyer's Garden. I harvested only about 450 gms of leaves and used canning jars with smaller amounts in the double boiler set up. Once, strained, it took about 3 times as much thiox as I should have had to use, to get the vat to start to reduce. It never really got as greeny yellow as I like, but I dumped in my soaked rovings and was pleasantly surprised. I redyed the rovings from the previous attempt.

There are still many leaves.. I'm thinking I have at least a kilo left to harvest or maybe more. Some plants are even flowering, so my fingers are crossed for a late frost and some seed production. Until then, my free days will be spent dyeing things blue!


Much Romney fibre is being spun, although I'm not nearly as productive as I'd like to be in this area. My goal right now is to do spin patterned yardage. Spin patterning is when you use the twist of the yarn to create the pattern on the fabric. It's very subtle and will only show when the light hits it in just the right way. There are a few extant samples which show this technique, both in tabby and twill weaves. Since many of the textiles of that time period were spun using a medium hairy fibre, the Romney I have is pretty perfect for this.

I've got about 2000 yds of Z twist singles and nearly 1000 yds of S twist singles spun. To do a spin patterned twill, I'll need about 2300 yds of each. A spin patterned tabby is about 1500 yds of each. Not sure yet which I'm doing so I'm sort of going back and forth with Z and S spinning, so as to not over do it too much, until I decide which weave structure I'm going to do.

My goal was to spin 2 drum carded batts a day, however I'd neglected to take into account those days when I had other things planned. I've managed most days to fit it in and on most days I've spun extra batts in order to make up for the short falls on others. Still it is taking longer to spin than I'd anticipated. The winding the warp deadline for the challenge is Sept. 24 and I'm still spinning away. Once I get enough to do the warp, I'll start winding it and spin the rest of the weft as I go.

EGG update...

7 of the 11 girls are now laying and we are already up to our armpits in eggs. Still, chickens make good pets and require very little effort. The eggs are a bonus. That we have so many of them well, hopefully I have enough family and friends to take them off my hands.


Leigh said...

We love our chickens too! They are so much fun. I love the blues you got from the knotweed and also the soft Romney gray. Beautiful colors both.

Leena said...

Why do you think the stainless steel double boiler didn't work? Was there too much air?
I have also been harvesting japanese indigo and I have used the glassjar method for extracting the indigo, just like your second usual method, and it works for me also.

Jody said...

Hi Nina...so nice to meet you at the show :-)
I bought a Natural Dye Kit from Blue Castle Fiber Arts and I hope to try natural dyeing once again...I have only used Goldenrod before. Beautiful Romney! My friend and I just bought some Romney Lamb fleeces from Willow Farm.

Sharon said...

I do like the blue you got, much brighter than indigo. I'm going to have to pay attention to your weaving with singles - most interesting idea~

Helen said...

Like Leena I am bit puzzled about your double boiler method not working this time. What do you think the problem was? Is there any possibility that the pH was too low? Or do you think it was just the thiox? Hope you don't mind this stream of questions but I am about to harvest my last batch and don't want to waste it.
Anyway great post. Thanks for sharing.