The dyeing season starts again…

…slowly but surely

 

My friend gave me a Gunnera tinctoria dried flowerstalk with a lot of seeds in it. I’m told Gunnera tinctoria roots should dye black but I don’t seem to find a lot about it on the Internet. It’s worth a try but I need some full grown plants first, that will take a while, for sure. I found a few oaks galls in my garden which will come in handy at some point and I’ve started a fermentation vat with Ivy berries and leaves (Hedera helix). I’ve never tried dyeing with them and I’m very curious if it will give me the famous green I’m hoping for. Another smaller vat is filled with fermented juice of some rose hips I’ve collected in the Fall, the color is a very promising dark red but my guess is it will give pink on yarn. And in the smaller vat I’m testing oak moss (Evernia prunastri). It’s looks very promising so far, this lichen is very famous for it’s purplish dye. All fermented dyes of course!

More about this soon…

Ah! Spring is in the air !

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Digging for madder…

madder roots

Madder roots 

It’s been a while since I posted something here. That’s because it’s winter and during winter I hibernate. Which means I don’t dye anything or harvest any plants, I just read and knit and read and knit and once in a while I write a bit too.

But basically, I’m waiting for the return of spring…

freshly dugged madder roots

freshly dug madder roots

But yesterday the weather was nice, the sun was shining and it felt like spring! So I decided it was a good day to harvest some madder roots.
It is said that the minimum age for harvesting madder is three years, but the best age should be five years. I have three madder plants, all of them three years old, so I dug one out, leaving some of the roots in the soil for new plants and I harvested about 300 grams of roots. I put them in a bucket full of water to loosen the soil and let it soak overnight.

Because madder root is hard to cut when dry I cut mine fresh in small pieces using a pair of secateurs after I have washed them thoroughly several times.

washed fresh madder roots

Now I will let them dry in a warm place before I use them, later in summer.
The colour of the roots is quite red as you can see. 300 grams of fresh washed roots should be around 45 grams of dried madder. That’s not much and to be honest I expected more, but I guess I will have to be patient and wait another two years to dig out the rest.

chopped fresh madder roots

chopped and ready to dry

Conclusion:  I will have to plant a LOT more plants if I want to dye with my own madder…

I went into the woods today

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

I wanted to share a few pictures of a beautiful magical forest close to my place here in Brittany.

The forest of Huelgoat is the vestige of the ancient forest that once covered inland Brittany. Huelgoat is a breton word  – huel=high and goat=forest – “the wood from above” Lots of mythical legends are born from this fascinating natural setting.

magical forest - foret d'Huelgoat

hairy rocks - foret d'Huelgoat

In this magical forest the rocks are very old,  with hair-like vegetation growing on top


shamanic mushroom foret d'Huelgoat

lots of shamanic mushrooms can be found here

mare aux sangliers - Foret d'Huelgoat

Springs and small streams are everywhere

la grotte d'Artus - King Arthur's grotto - foret d'Huelgoat

King Arthur himself visited this forest on a regular basis, here a cave named after him

la grotte d'Artus - foret d'Huelgoat

the tree on the rocks - foret d'Huelgoat

This oak is trying to split the rock which it grows upon

Do you see the gnome who’s trying to scare us away?

I really need to come and walk here more often, it’s such a peaceful place

summer dyes – part one

There comes a time when autumn asks,
what have you been doing all summer ?


summer dyes 2015 shades of lynx

Dyer’s chamomile – Anthémis des teinturières – BFL
Coreopsis – silk
Tulip tree leaves – tulipier de Virginie feuilles – BFL
Dyer’s broom – Genêt des teinturières – silk
Poppy flowers – pivot fleurs – kidsilk mohair
Eucalyptus – BFL
Goldenrod – solidage – kidsilk mohair

Eucalyptus – silk
Woad – pastel – kidsilk
Goldenrod – solidage – silk
Goldenrod – solidage – BFL lace
Coreopsis – BFL
Queen Anne’s lace – carotte sauvage – kidsilk mohiair
Woad – pastel – BFL lace

Shades were obtained by fermentation
no mordants (except for the Eucalyptus :symplocos)
only lemon juice and/or lye water modifiers

a summer of madder…

Irish sheep farmers still feed their sheep Rose Madder plant to tint the wool. (It’s so much easier than dying it!) And Rose Madder naturally turns the teeth and bones of animals who eat the plant a reddish color, which became a gift to 19th century scientists for studying bone growth and development.

http://www.belltowndesign.com/red-pink-paint-color/

I expected to dye a lot with woad this year but for some strange reason my woad plants didn’t grow that well, so…


my summer was madder shades of lynx

My summer was kind of madder

shades of madder on alpaca-silk hanging to dry

Alpaca/silk mordanted with Symplocos – dyed with madder – using lemon juice and washing soda as modifiers

I’m going to knit a oversized sweater with this yarn  🙂