While the remnants of hurricane Gonzalo are lashing our coast with high winds, heavy rain and impressive waves, I am sitting in our cosy house, thinking of all the things I could make and experiment with during the dark months of winter.
Amongst other things I would like to do a few trials with natural dyeing. My group of Crafty Crofters had several meetings over the summer and autumn to try out different dye materials such as madder, silverweed, sweet cecily, birch bark and leaves, woad, logwood, annatto seed and onion skins. I am not as systematic as I would like to be in taking notes about the procedures to follow and the results but my aim is to buy a proper “dyeing bible” and to dye some of the Cheviot wool I’ve got. At this time of year I probably start with onion skin and iron to get yellows, browns, greens and blues.
Samples dyed with birch leaves and birch bark. From left to right: Birch leaves (first dye bath, this looks yellower in reality than in the photo), birch leaves (1st bath + iron, this looks greener in reality), birch leaves (2nd bath + iron), birch bark, birch bark + iron. Unfortunately, my camera can’t show the colours exactly as the eye sees them. They are all lovely natural and autumnal colours.
During our last meeting we had a look at a Jacob fleece which we are going to divide between us. Being a beginner in the field of spinning and selecting parts of a fleece for different kinds of work, there’s a lot to learn for me.
On Saturday the 18th of October I went to the Highland Wool and Textile Fair held in Eden Court in Inverness. This bus was not part of the Fair but parked outside the entrance and looked lovely in the sunshine.
I haven’t been to this fair before, which takes place in May (in Dingwall) and October (Inverness). Lots of talented craftspeople presented their yarns, fabrics and products made from wool or felt. Rather than buying a finished product I was interested in yarns and fabrics to use for my own little projects. It’s also great to see what others are up to and to make contact with people in this creative community.
Kingcraig, a business with shops in Brora and Dornoch, had some baskets with offcuts and squares of their range of woven fabrics for sale. They proved extremely popular as the stall holder told me when I bought three for very little money. The red and the blue/red one are pre-finished fabric as it comes off the loom. It needs washing to turn into the soft fabric which they use to make cushion covers, bags, hats and other items.
Wool fairs are a place to buy yarns and these are the ones I chose. The orange and brownish yarn is merino with silk, handspun by Isobel McCallum Scott from Naturally Sheepish. The blue and blue-green yarns are sock yarn and double knitting Blue Faced Leicester, hand-dyed with acid dyes by the Yarn Garden. I really look forward to starting a new project now.