Back to the Future

This past weekend I attended Abbey Medieval Festival as a 15th century reenactor with my new and improved textile workspace. Having a place I could permanently have my stuff set up in and having a few friends in the workspace with me worked much better than last year.

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There were some things that went well on the weekend, and some things that didn’t go as planned, but I’ll start with the positives.

I had a rainbow of woo! The naturally dyed wool got a lot of love over the weekend and it was great to see people interested. It got people talking about the colours of the middle ages and people were interested in both the actual science of dyeing as well as general discussions about the relative cost of different colours.

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Speaking of dyeing, my dyeing vats were fit for purpose and lasted the weekend. I got a lot of compliments on my “clay ovens”. Of course, what they were was a pot from bunnings, turned upside down and assaulted by an angle grinder, standing on an inverted bird bath top.

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I also managed to get the madder to the right temperature, which considering I had only my hand as a thermometer and a fire in a pot, I was pretty proud of.

I had a lot of fun with the magic of indigo. I discovered that people were continually stopping by so rather than dyeing big skeins of wool, a small bit of cotton string worked well for showing the same thing 50 billion times.

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We also had fun with cochineal and watching it change different colours. Oh, and I had a bunch of cool stuff.

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And yes, my dyes and mordants actually made it there and back in glass jars with no mishaps.

I really liked the signs I made

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I made over 30 or so of these all up, and also put them in our woodworking workspace.

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And of course I had some friends with me this year, two dedicated ladies with me:

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And some friends the dropped by:

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Finally I took a photo of me wearing the same outfit as painted in my sign which I’ve wanted to do for a while.

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While I had a great time, there are some things I want to change for next year.

First of all, we were meant to be set up by midday Friday, and due to a series of events that didn’t happen. This meant that I didn’t spend Friday doing videos as planned, nor did I spend it getting my dyeing all set up (I planned on getting some dyes soaking and some yarn mordanted ready for saturday morning). This put me half a day behind with my planned dyeing and meant I didn’t do a lot of dyeing that I wanted to do. We have taken note for next year what and when slowed us down and the elements we can control will be changed so next year we can plan to be ready earlier.

My spinning wheel looked fantastic, it was built by my friend who had never seen a spinning wheel before and he finished it the day before we started setting up. We were meant to spend some of Friday trying to tweak it to get it working, which didn’t happen. On the positive side I did receive some advice on the weekend and we know what needs to be done to get it operational.

I also should have laid some of my stuff out more neatly, I meant to but didn’t get around to it. oops.

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Group photo- we planned on taking a big group photo of all of us.  Group photos are very hard to do at events, by the time everyone has had breakfast and is dressed and ready it is close to 8:30 and the public are in and you’ve got to be working.  Especially this year, it was so cold I lazed in bed until 6am! Two and a half hours isn’t long when you have so much to do and need to get the fire started so you can make breakfast (not to mention hot water on to boil so you can wash up after breakfast). Everything takes longer in the 15th century.

Now I’m back to the future, and coming back to reality. There are many things I love about the future, like being able to have a hot coffee before I properly wake up. Or plugholes. You know, after you have finished with a sink full of wash water you just pull the plug and out it goes? No need to carry it somewhere away from camp to empty.

But of course, I’m already talking and planning the next event. I’ve applied to be a presenter at the Queensland Living History Federation’s conference, I presented the year before last (last year they ran it the weekend I was getting married so I obviously didn’t attend). So (Hopefully) the next event I’ll be attending is that where I’ll be presenting, but I haven’t heard back yet from the organisers so we’ll see.

 

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Further Adventures in Natural Dyeing

So I havent had much chance to do dyeing for the past couple of weeks. This past weekend I went to a reenactment event where I met up with some dyeing friends from Rafnheim who dyed a beautiful array of colours.

So I was itching to get back to some dyeing and yesterday I put aside half a day and played with some new colours.

First I wanted to play with some of my flowers, so I soaked some marigold.

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The first colours I got were a nice sunny yellow.

I read adding iron would make green.

So I added iron. I didn’t quite get green, so for the last skein I added a hint of gardenia blue. The results below.

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From left to right, the skein with a hint of gardenia blue, marigold with iron (three skeins) and just marrigold.

When I bought these inside today the middle ones did look a bit more greenish.

With the fustic I found I had to leave the skeins in the iron overnight to get the green to develop, so maybe I’ll have to try that next time.

Meanwhile, did you notice that purple in the earlier photo? I know, right?

While not a new dye to me, I bought some different cochineal from a different supplier. I ordered it from America and this came in bug form that I ground. I dyed one skein and I got this beautiful deep purple.

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This second photo is a little brighter than it is in real life, the other photos are more colour accurate on my monitor.

Then I had still colour in the dye bath, so I kep going, and so did the cochineal!

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I dyed three more skeins in varying shades of pink. I then dyed another skein! But there was so little cochineal left I added a smidge of my powdered extract and a small amount of cream of tater.

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I got the very bright colour to the left. Te middle is another marigold with gardenia (I dyed two, only one is in the above photo).

I tried dyeing with brazilwood. I should have looked up instructions because I just added some to some water and added my yarn. The brazil wood was powdered but all the bits stuck to my yarn, maybe it would be better to have chips and soak then drain? or try to pass the water through a mesh before using to filter the powder out?

But at any rate, I got a couple of pretty colours pictured below, and the one to the far right int he photo above.

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Here are all (except three) of my happy colours out on the line.

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Now I just need to hope I have time for dyeing next weekend and to decide what colours to do!

 

 

I’m not dead, I’m dyeing!

I know it’s been a while since an update, once again I’ve been busy.

At work I’m seconding in a position I hope to one day become permanent in (I work full time).

Our home business is growing in leaps and bounds, as is the time it requires. We’ve taken the shop to a few events recently too which is always a lot of work (but generally a lot of fun too!)

We have 5 and a half acres to maintain. We’re working on renovating our home, getting it up to the building code and extending it (land is huge, house is the size of a postage stamp and built in the 1950s with a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to building safety. We’re talking stairs with no railings and doors that open into mid-air two stories up people.)

I’ve been growing and doing some exciting work concerning 15th century spinning and my presence at events.

Apparently I still have other hobbies and a life outside all of this- like family birthdays and my parents love me and want to spend time with me and how is it almost June already?

You’ll notice I didn’t mention housework anywhere in the above list. I’m also not inviting you over to my house any time soon unless you’re here to clean. Just saying.

Bu today’s blog post is about the point I glossed over above and referenced partially in the title- growing 15th century spinning.

Last year at Abbey Medieval Festival I had a little 15th century spinning display.

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It was a partial success, but room for improvement. One issue is I was really sick at Abbey and not up to talking all day. Another issue was I couldn’t be there all the time and couldn’t see the display when I wasn’t there, which meant every time I left it I had to pack down and set up again.

This year I will have a bigger tent that can be closed, meaning I can leave it. I also have some friends helping me so that there will always be someone there. I’ll have more crafts… including dyeing!

I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of natural dyes, some medieval, some not so, and have been dyeing up a storm.

Which brings me to the title of the post.

I’ve bought a large range of different dyes and am having a lot of fun.

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I’ve dyed a bit with cochineal, I have an extract as the shop I bought it from idn’t have the whole bugs.

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I’ve managed to get some really red reds from it, some slightly orange reds and some nice pinks.

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I’ve yet to get purple. I’ve ordered some actual cochineal bugs and am looking forward to seeing the difference in colour.

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I’ve really enjoyed the colours I’ve got from madder and want to order more.

You can see me talking about my results with madder and cochineal in my video.

I’ve also dyed a range of yellows and blues and greens, which I talk about in part two of my video.

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Something else which I’ve done recently is attended my first LARP event. I only went for one day (there was a three-way clash that weekend, so I managed to go to two out of three events). I really enjoyed it, it was interesting seeing the role-playing and quests. Some of the costumes were just fantastic. I only spend 15 minutes in the afternoon taking photos so I missed some fabulous ones. For example, there was one group dressed as cats and they had prosthetics on their nose and mouths to make them more cat-like and painted their whole face to look like cats! Just really awesome. So I thought I might share some photos of the LARP below.

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So that’s all for today, I know I have some lovley messages and comments to catch up on- I feel bad when I can’t reply to them all so I tend to leave them until I have time to reply to them all… You know how it goes.

But look out for future dyeing posts as I have lots of yarn left to dye and lots of dyes to try!