Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Needlepoint picture with natural dyes & making green yarns with indigo overdye

Alert readers will notice that time has passed.

In that time, my much loved desktop computer began it's long slow slide into paperweight-itude.  Not being made of money, I had a dear friend who is very smart and knows of such things look for a used computer.

This is my first blog on my new LAPTOP.  I can now be one of the cool kids!  I am so lucky that he was able to just load my old hard-drive onto the new one, so everything is pretty much the same, except I can pick this little darlin' up and go work elsewhere.  I know!  How cool is that.

I still reach off to the right side for the mouse, my hand curling in the mouse position, but it's a great blessing to be able to load a web page in under 4 minutes.

Needlepoint Picture!!!

The owner of this lovely picture received it as a gift.  The creator of the picture sounds like she was amazing and very loving.  The owner believes it was created in 1902 and remembers hearing stories about the yarn being dyed.  The creator was a cook in the White House and pieces of her work still hang there, which is very wonderful.

Red headed woman in a straw hat as a bluebird alights and roses bloom
Lovely gold frame really enhances it,

Below you see me holding up a corner of my shrug I was wearing with the green that matches.  I dyed the green with a local plant (rabbit brush) that has been used for dyeing things from a very long time (Native American tribes of Navajo, Hopi, and Ute all used rabbit brush for dyeing and medicine.)  The rabbit brush dyes yellow, then I add an over dye of indigo.

There is a darker green that I can match, but isn't on the shrug.  Just a big more time in the indigo - without being too much or you get a blue that is a hint green rather than a green that is a hint blue.
There a little lines of a brilliant blue that I believe is a color she bought.  I can see how to replicate all the other colors with natural dyes.  But that blue is just too synthetic/bright/one-dimensional, something - it just doesn't look like a natural dye to me.  I'd be happy to be schooled if anyone can get that color!   Every other color, I can see the recipe needed to make it.  Which makes me unbelievably happy.

You can also see in this picture that the entire picture is covered in yarn needlepoint.  There is no bare sections at all.  Amazing.

And in another place on the picture.  It just amazes me how good a match after 110 years.  This picture was very well cared for!

Making Indigo Green

Green is all around us in the plants, but when you actually dye with it, it mostly comes out yellows and beiges.  In the Gardeners Revenge blog (Gardeners Revenge blog link) you can see some of the variations.  You can also see additional greens made with yellow with an iron mordant.  Iron greens are more of an olive.  A topic for another blog, however!

To get indigo green, I dye the yarn yellow first, then overdye with indigo.  I have done the opposite, but not often.  Both work.

Here is the drying rack with yellows ready for dipping in indigo to make green!!!  These skeins were dyed with early apple leaves from the 40 year old apple tree that stands in the yard of my Dyeing Partner Kathy.  The yellow is different than the rabbit brush yellow, but I didn't take pictures all the way through of the process at any time.  Bear with me, it's all the same process whether the yellow base was rabbit brush or apple.  I just get so excited and giddy with the coloring process that the camera sort of gets set down and forgotten.

The reds you also see will undergo their own transformation to purple, but I'll talk more about red/purple in a later blog.  Or as Alton Brown used to say, "But that's another show....."

Also you see some silk hankies, to the right above the red skeins, that are partially dyed.  Those are some very cool things that I haven't played with nearly enough.  You can spin silk yarn from the them as is, or even knit them without spinning.

I generally let the skeins dry due to time, I only dye one day a week so there are colors that take weeks to complete.
Indigo is yellow before it is introduced to oxygen.

This is a pot of yellow yarn in indigo, I believe.  It's hard to tell.  Indigo is magic and far outside my time allotted to write this blog to explain.  Check around the interwebs if you need to know more, as there are lots of people who go on at great length about the chemistry of indigo.  I won't be one of them - today.

So indigo in solution is a clear yellow.  As it gets more oxidized, it turns a slight blue in the pan.  That does not give as good a blue to the yarn and may rub off/croc more.

A somewhat oxidized pot of indigo.  Unhappy dye pot.  Needs some TLC!
The skeins of yarn hang out in the pot as time passes.  When they are done, I put on the indigo glove and start the oxidation process.  Indigo seems to love attaching to plastic as well.  My gloves, the plastic bucket I rinse in, the plastic spoon - all deeply stained.

Just out of the pot, mostly yellow.

Still more green
A bit greener (and blurry)
The rest of the oxidation takes place on the drying rack.  I'll leave them on there for up to a couple of hours.  Then they get a nice sudsy bath and head back to the rack to dry.

Here are some good colors:

Left-Rabbitbrush yellow, Middle-deep blue green, Right-Leaf green

Greens (looking a bit too blue in this light) and purples after a long day of indigo! 

I've got a few skeins of things up on my Etsy page for sale.  It's very hard to get good pictures of true colors so I don't have a lot posted.  I'd love to have you stop by where ever we are selling and visit our booth to see how wonderful the colors are!  But here's the link if you are interested:

My Etsy shop: Fox Ryde Gardens

The transformations of indigo are a deep and abiding mystery to me even though I know the science of what is going on, I still am awed and enchanted.   I can so see how people who made color were seen as makers of magic.

After a day of very hard work with the big pots and all the plant wrangling to look at the racks of skeins drying, I feel so very blessed and not a small bit magical myself.


Monica said...

Yea for laptop resurection!

Wow, what an exciting find, that needle point picture! It is amazing how well it has weathered the time.

Oh... and do you need a new mouse to go with your new laptop??? ;-)


Spike said...

Yes! That would be awesome!

It's even prettier in person!

It was so great to get to spend so much time with you at the Mazer Cup!

See you Friday!