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!

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35,000 Views!

On the 30th of June 2012 I posted on my Live Journal “I have a spinning blog!” An excerpt is below:

My journal is friends only, has been for a while. I post a lot of costuming stuff to the dress diaries community when I want to share it with the world because I know I appreciate reading other’s diaries as they have helped me in the past. Also it is just interesting and inspiring reading what other people are doing. My spinning progress is something I’d like to share with the world because I know I would have found it very helpful. Still world, actually, if I found someone else doing it. I’ve joined a few communities, mostly yahoo groups and I’ve joined ravelry because there are some spinning groups on there. I’m reading lots of interesting stuff but a lot of it is modern based or based on non-European peoples. So I’ve started a blog as my portal to share my progress with the world. I don’t expect it to get high traffic or a stack of hits, that’s not what I’m after, but I feel better knowing that I’m contributing my research to the re-enactment community at large and it’s out there for anyone to find and access…

 

When I started this blog it was really because I felt a duty to share my knowledge in a public place. I expected that a couple of people might look at it, as in, one or two people. I thought it would be wonderful if a handful of people saw it and found it useful.

Well, today I have past 35,000 views which is (to me) a lot. Like, tens of thousands more than I expected a lot.

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When I started learning about these spinning techniques I knew no one that did them. In my early research I found a few old films showing it, but the first person I ever saw talking about it was Norman Kennedy. While there are still people out there who argue that this style of spinning ‘doesn’t exist’, I come across a lot of re-enactors who, like me, are trying to learn about the old European spinning traditions and how they might apply to their period of historic interest. Also, I have come across modern spinners who aren’t re-enactors spinning this way or learning about it. The Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning Group on facebook has over 300 members and is growing.

There is so much to learn, and so much to figure out, but I feel both proud and privileged to have become a part of this little spinning movement.

So I‘d like to say thank you to my fans and supporters, but an even bigger thank you to everyone who is learning about these techniques and sharing your learnings online. Please keep posting, and if you need a platform to publish anything let me know, I’m more than happy to share your work on my blog- even if you are just begining your efforts are of interest to other spinners. If you’ve published something on a blog or website of your own and would like me to link to it- please let me know.

And finally, this is a lot of views for me, if this isn’t a lot of views for you, or your blog has a wider audience than mine, then PLEASE POST ABOUT DISTAFF SPINNING! Because that way even more people can see it! 🙂

 

 

How to Use a Distaff While Sitting

A common sight in medieval manuscripts is ladies standing while spinning, like this lady spinning wool amongst the sheep.

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Also common, is the lady taking a break to spin, like this lady spinning wool amongst the sheep.

Which sometimes raises the question “How do I use a distaff while sitting?”

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Well, there are many answers and the right answer is what works for you.

This lady has a beautiful standing distaff.

Grabow Altarpiece, Bertram von Minden, c 1379-1383

Grabow Altarpiece, Bertram von Minden, c 1379-1383

Sometimes the lady clasps the distaff between her knees

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1380, Mary spinning

I would love a standing distiff, but I don’t have one yet.  People have asked how I sit with my distaff and as it’s hard to explain I decided to do a video.

This is simply how I sit with my distaff, what works for you may be different. Please feel free to share what works for you in the comments!

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Spinning Experiment- We Need You!

Tell a bunch of spinners that the output of a medieval spinner could be no more than 20 metres per hour, and they’ll want to prove you wrong. As such, the folks over at the Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning are conducting a spinning experiment, looking at the production rates of modern spinners. The experiment collects a wide range of date, from spinning method, years of experience to fibre spun, tools used and more. Collecting all of this data means that we can use the results for different things. For example, we could compare grasped spinning production rates to that with suspended spinning, or we could look at how years of experience affects production.

I encourage you all to take part, here is the form you need to complete and you can take part multiple times.

When you are filling out the form, pay attention when it asks you to enter in the amount spun- just do that! There’s a slot for time spun also so your production rate per hour can be calculated. Don’t be clever and work out the average you spun in an hour, otherwise you’ll confuse the results:

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Oops!

At least it gave me a laugh! The preliminary results (without my mistake) are up on the facebook group so if you’re not a member, join to check them out. But we need more responses, so please take part!

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Video Wednesday- NiddyNoddy’s Medieval Spindle Stick a Spiral Notch.

This week I bring you the next review of my five new NiddyNoddy Spindles. This spindle handled both my fine and coarser wool very well. The deep spiral notch meant there is no need for a half hitch and it works very well for suspended or semi-suspended techniques as well as grasped spinning.

The packaging that I was spinning is Lleyn, which is a welsh meat breed. Neil from Niddy Noddy mentioned that a lot of wool of this quality is buried or burned due to the nature of the wool industry in the UK which is a shame as it is a good usable wool.

This spindle weighs 10g which is lighter than the first spindle I reviewed, and while it went ok with my lightweight 6g whorl I preferred it with my 20g whorl.

You can find Niddy Noddy on facebook: www.facebook.com/niddynoddyuk and etsy www.etsy.com/uk/shop/NiddyNoddyUK

You can read more about other tools for spinning and other brands of spindles here

 

Sharing Saturday- Jane’s Distaff

Today I thought I’d share how Jane dresses her distaff after she kindly posted step-by-step photos on the Historic Spinning facebook group. Many thanks to Jane Hunt for allowing me to share!
I hand comb the fibres with my mini combs.

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Then I draw off the fibres by hand, not having a clamp means I can’t use a diz, but maybe one day.

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Next I plank the sliver, a fancy term for breaking it into suitable lengths for my distaff.

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Then I spread out each length into a thin layer about 10″ wide.

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I pile up the layers, one on top of the other, to form a batt.

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Then I lay my distaff along the long edge (the same direction that the fibres are going in) As you can see, this is my deluxe ‘from the hedgerow’ distaff!

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I then roll the distaff up in the batt fairly snugly.

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Finally I criss cross my linen tape down the distaff and tie in a bow at the bottom. I tie it tight enough for there to be some resistance to pull against, but not so tight I can’t draught the fibres comfortably. Hope this helps!

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How do you dress your distaff? Please do share your methods, and let me know if you’d like me to post your method on my blog for another Sharing Saturday.

You can read about some other distaff dressing methods here.

Video ‘Wednesday’- New Spindles!

How many spindles does a medieval lady need?

Answer, five more than she has!

Yes, I ordered a few (ok five) spindles from Niddy Noddy

When I first started spinning I couldn’t find many places selling medieval style spindles or spindle shafts, now I can find a lot. I think there is a lot more opportunity for small sellers to set up shop online these days. Maybe there are more people interested in spinning with appropriate tools at re-enactment events too? Whatever the reason, there are spindles out there that I don’t have and I thought I should change that.

I have a few other spindles on my wish list, but if you see anything you think I should buy… enable me!

One thing I find with my current spindles is that I buy the spindles and whorls separately (though both sellers sell whorls to match their spindles) and many of my whorls don’t fit my spindles as low as I would like.  Nothing wrong with the spindles, they are fantastic, but I do love my whorls too. So I talked to Neil first about my needs and he came up with a few ideas.

I bought two medieval spindle sticks (one with a spiral notch, one without), two medieval style spindle sticks which Neil shaped to my specifications (one with a spiral notch, one without) and a Dealgan just because I wanted to.

I’ve done a series of videos covering each spindle, but the below is just me chatting about the spindles I got and talking about what I got and why and how they fit my whorls.

I tried to upload this yesterday, but the internet was too slow, so I had to finish uploading it today, hence why video ‘Wednesday’ is on Thursday.

Abbey Medieval Festival- Sunday

Things started slow on Sunday morning. While I got to bed at a reasonable hour some of our group got to bed at 4am! It’s not unusual for people to be getting UP at about 4:30am. And no, it wasn’t just the young ones! Lol.
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I had a little more time on Sunday as we didn’t have the tournament and I was feeling a little better.

I managed to visit the 14th century encampment where I took a few videos.
Here is my friend tablet weaving:

The other videos I’m yet to edit, but I took some in the fantastic Historia encampment where they had a lot of artefacts on display. You can see some snippets of these videos in my highlights video here:

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I also had time to watch (and video) my group running the Tournament of Strength and Skill, which I’m still editing the individual videos for but you can see the overview here.

Once again I had my fingerloop and spinning demos.

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I was also really happy to see my first ever medieval dress worn again. This dress is about 13 years old and still has a lot of life left in it:

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Actually, a few of my dresses were worn by people other than me. The tally over the weekend also included:

My green and gold silk cioppa (you may have spotted it on my friend in the first photo of this post.
My gold silk sleeves
My green sleeves
My jaffa dress (orange gironea)
and
My pink wool kirtle

I have a friend who has borrowed my brown giornea for the past few events but she had a new kirtle of her own for this event

I was really planning on doing some videos of me spinning, but unfortunately I was too sick on Thursday and Friday (also it was raining on Friday) to get them done. At my demo on Sunday I did manage to give and film an impromptu spinning lesson.

Now things are finally settling down from Abbey. Taking the shop is a lot of work. I had the event itself off from helping on the shop, but am still involved of course in the pre and post work which is significant.  But I hope really truly to do some more videos soon. My husband bought me a bunch of spindles from a new (to me) shop so I hope to do a video review of each of them.