Been a bit quiet on my blog lately. Sorry about that folks. Seem to have a bit of time up my sleeve to write what I have been up too.
I am currently working on several commissioned projects. Viking age leg wraps to be exact. Unlike many other people I handspin all the wool for these items on a drop spindle. Essentially a stick with a weight on the end. It takes time but it still has a slightly different look about it to wheel spun wool. (Spinning wheels apparently didnt appear till around the 11th century, see this link http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_wheel).
I have been combing and spinning natural coloured Spelsau sheep fleeces, as covered in my earlier articles. The very exciting thing (for me at least) that I am working on right now is cold dyeing with a traditional woad fermentation vat and using a cold dyeing technique (no heat applied what so ever) for madder red on Icelandic wool.
The colours which are basically coming from a one dip and leave technique – (rather than a fuss about a heated stove and use modern chemicals like spectralite) are beautiful. The cold dye madder technique has been the most fiddly so far as I am not the most patient girl when it comes to waiting for colour to happen. I will most likely go into more detail about what it is I do when I have more samples and things written down.
Without further ado I would like to share the beautiful “cookie monster blue” I was able to produce with one single long dip (about a day) in the stinky woad vat. I have been getting very gradual successively lighter blues with each long day dip I do (as expected).
This is the beautiful madder red I made after a 7 day presoaking of the Icelandic wool in alum, rinsing and placeing in a cold vat of ground madder which had leached into water with a small amount of calcium carbonate added to it to simulate a different ph and letting it soak in the madder dip for three days. No heat at all involved in this process – which is based on the ” Nest Rubio” technique. Nest wasnt to sure that our ancestors used all their firewood for heat dyeing cloth. I tend to agree with her. Its a much more relaxed way of dyeing wool and I havent had to worry about turning my maddar brown with overheating.