This one is embarrassing. About a year or so ago I received a box of heirloom cotton. The project was to gin it, spin, and do something. It sat on my desk for way to long while I’d occasionally get some of the ginning done, comb, roll some punis, spin a bit and that was about it.
Since I’ve been working from home – the faux cubicle with a view – I got on a roll hand ginning all the cotton. Unlike my backyard Pima this cotton didn’t peel easily off the seeds. I ginned through Zoom meetings, breaks, the occasional netflix movie and about two weeks into quarantine that part was finished.
Originally I learned how to spin cotton on a book charkha from Eileen Hallman / New World Textiles (https://newworldtextiles.com/). She’s a fabulous teacher and if you have the chance to take one of her workshops do so.
Over time my cotton spinning preference has been the Ashford Charkha. I’m able to spin in a chair with the weel in my lap. Wheel base is less than a foot in length and very portable.
I’ve been fortunate to not lose my job during the Covid19 quarantine. In my case this means working remote from home. My co-workers know me pretty well so they probably assume I’m knitting during Zoom meetings whether I am or not so I might as well do so. (Now there’s a dreadful run-on sentence…)
Lots of sock knitting so far, burning through my stash of Patons Kroy Sock Yarn. Basic sock pattern from Wendy Johnson’sSocks from the Toe Up. Her web site: https://wendyknits.
I’m really a craptacular blogger. Haven’t posted since January when the Oxalis started to take off. As I have often posted, Oxalis is a pain-in-the-neck for gardens but a great dye plant. It goes rampant around January and starts to die off around May-June when the weather heats up.
January is when the Oxalis starts it’s annual invasion. As annoying as it can be – taking over the garden – it’s still my staple for yellow dye and a favorite with local bees. I let the bees have at it in the morning and pick after. By the time it starts dying off I’ll have a good supply of dried oxalis, enough for myself and to give away to other dyers.
About the Woad. I haven’t written much about Woad since there hasn’t been any for awhile. Woad is not a desert plant. (Pause for a moment of duh.) My area of southern California is what some may call “reclaimed desert”. Something you can forget until the car breaks down in the San Fernando Valley in July and there is your reminder.
Two years of drought wiped out whatever Woad I still had growing. But, I still have seeds from the last plant so I’m going to try again this year. Nothing of course can wipe out Oxalis. And the bees like it.
My other on-going project will be mordanting cotton following the method described in John Liles ‘Art and craft of natural dyeing”. Lots of scouring, soaking and then mordanting, more steeping, more soaking and then you get to the actual dying.
I’m a craptacular blogger. I just realized I haven’t posted in over a year. What I have done however is install my own local WordPress. With only one call to the kind people at Pair Networks Tech Support.
It will be the usual mix of plants, cats, dye projects with painting and print making tossed in.
Ida Grae points out that most cooking herbs will produce yellows. If I can eat or use something as a medicinal I tend not to dye with it but the Rosemary here is so plentiful it’s worth trying. Same probably goes for Lavender but I haven’t tried that yet.
*Ida Grae / Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, 1979.