This was one of the most useful tools I picked up this year. I’ve been working from home during the pandemic and have worked on small projects from my desk. This could be spinning with the mini-lap charkha or smaller weaving projects. Small looms like the Hockett or Cactus Flower loom are easier to work on if they are clamped to the desk. Even better the vice has a tilting head.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done any Woad processing – or growing. Two years of drought wiped out my front yard patch. One of my fellow SoCal Handweavers guildmates gave me some starter plants that you see in the lower left.
This is following the excellent directions from http://woad.org.uk/html/woad_pigment.html .
I trimmed leaves from the larger plant which yielded 71 grams (2.5 oz) of fresh leaves.
Following the directions for extracting Woad from http://woad.org.uk/html/woad_pigment.html steeped the leaves, added some Soda Ash.
The Soda Ash to make the steeped leaves more alkaline, over pH 9. The introduced oxygen to by running a mixer for about 10 minutes.
Next let it settle – blue at the bottom is the dye.
Pour out or use a turkey-baster to pull out some of the water and replace with more clean water, letting the powder settle to the bottom of the container.
After about 3-4 days of clearing out the water and replacing with clean.
Let the Woad sludge dry out till only powder is left.
So, 71 grams of fresh leaves (2.5 oz) yielded 0.2 grams (0.01 oz). This may not sound like much but keep in mind this was from a few leaves trimmed from one young plant.
Also, I find this kind of process easy to do before and/or after work. Picking some leaves ever couple of weeks and processing that adds up.
Again see the excellent directions from http://woad.org.uk/html/woad_pigment.html .
Initial description and references
So, the Woad was getting chewed up by Cabbage Moths. Moved the pot and covered with “hardware cloth”. The moths have enough to eat and I need the blue dye.
Brown and Green cotton getting started with squashed (by cats) Catnip. Woad roots look pretty shallow to me so I think that will live well in pots.
Brown cotton seeds starting to come up. Cotton is always interesting to watch. The plant starts elbowing up and as the leaves open up they push off the seed casing.
And the Woad. Woad is not a desert plant. (Pause for a moment of duh.) It requires some extra care when weather is hot and dry.
These two are surviving but look a bit raggedy here due to snacking by bugs. Moved them to a different corner and mixed up some insecticidal soap. Hoping for the best here.
Another try with Erlene’s Green cotton. Fellow SCHG member Amy (https://www.instagram.com/ewefowlbeast/) has been sharing brown and green cotton seeds as well as Woad seedlings.
More additions, grommets and washers.
I think I finally have it adjusted. Spinning comfortably.
Nearly a year now working “remote” via zoom. The non-work result of this ment I could gin the cotton (https://www.jmjamison.com/ufos-unfinished-projects/) and make punis during meetings.
Finally finished the punis:
I grew up around people who made stuff and sometimes re-made with changes and improvements. As I’ve nattered on about it this year I purchased a mini lap charkha (https://www.facebook.com/minicottonspinner/) and love it. I work cramped and it’s portable. Day job staff meetings via zoom are so improved.
First off I’m a clutz. I’ve never seen a charkha of any make that I couldn’t stab myself on. Do they have to be so sharp? That I don’t know but they all are and I’ve found rubber plugs found at most hardware stores or amazon work great to protect me from myself.
As-is the mini charkha works fine with rubber bands. But I’ve found that hair ties work well also, especially when they are looser from use on hair.
I love poking around hardware stores and found rubber grommets that have a “track” in the middle which is great for keeping the drive band steady. I ended up putting all four of the grommets so the band is really steady. (Sorry for the blurry photo.)
I started project blogging back in 2006 with posts about blankets for my twin nieces (https://www.jmjamison.com/basil-for-twins-the-blanket-not-the-plant/). Knitting them Basil Blankets from Courtney Kelley’s pattern https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/basil-5.
In that time before Ravelry her patterns were sold from her Smith Island Pattern Factory site. Now her work is available from: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/courtney-kelley
So, fourteen years later the original recipients are in high school and and another child and another blanket is on the way.