Archive for August, 2009

Fibre Art Festival!

August 23, 2009

Apparently I have to stop announcing my intentions of posting “tomorrow” because it seems to have the terrible result of me ignoring the blog for several weeks.  And if you’re wondering, no, I haven’t taken pictures of the woad-dyed silk yet . . .

However, I do have pictures of What I Did on My Weekend, which in this case was going to the Gibsons Landing Fibre Arts Festival.  Dad, Sister, Boyfriend and I hopped on the ferry Saturday morning to spend the day immersed in fibre-y goodness.  Here’s a view of the harbour, for a taste of our surroundings:

GibsonsNot a bad place to spend the day, eh?

First we wandered around the town a bit, and the booths that were set up along the main road.


Spinning Guild

Booths and harbour

ViolinsI’m afraid I didn’t take many pictures, but it’s a neat little town.  They had musicians rotating all day, most of which were pretty good.

Boyfriend and I had lost Dad and Sister some time in our wanderings, so we decided to walk up to the high school where the classes and Merchant Mall were.  There was a shuttle bus, but we’d just missed it and didn’t feel like waiting.  I knew approximately where it was because I’d been there two years ago, and it wasn’t too far in my memory.  I was . . . kind of right.  The actual distance was not far, maybe eight blocks.  But the part that you don’t notice when you’re a passenger in somebody else’s car is that the road is basically vertical.  I tried to take a picture to convey just how steep it was, but I’m not sure it turned out too well:

Down StreetThis was from about three-quarters of the way up.  We walked basically from sea level all the way up, plus another two blocks that I would have considered uphill if we hadn’t just climbed Mount Everest.

Anyways, after a rest and some lunch, reunited with Dad and Sister, it was time to hit the merchant mall.  Yay!



This is the booth of the woman that I got my spinning wheel from.  She has some great books, and lots of unusual fibres and blends.



I love the take-out containers full of roving!




Mmmmm, silk . . .







The colours!  I need to do more weaving.


Some awesome handspun on the right, there.  This is the booth that was there two years ago that had a Louet Victoria on display.  Without them, I never would have gotten my lovely wheel!

Yeah, there were a couple of good things . . .

What with tuition looming and all, I only bought one package each of three fibres that I hadn’t tried before (cotton, hemp, and silk hankies) and some lace bobbins.  The one time I tried doing bobbin lace I liked it, but I was using popsicle sticks weighted down with masking tape.  I’m sure you can imagine how easy that was!  And I got an early Christmas present, too – The Intentional Spinner, which I have been coveting for months since I first heard about it.

After that, there was nothing else to do but wander back down the hill for ice cream before catching our ride back to the ferry.  All in all, it was a lovely day.

So far today I have tried spinning the cotton and the hemp, which I may or may not post more about some time in the future before something cooler comes along and I write about it instead.

Woad Vat

August 6, 2009

First things first, hello SCA people!  Thanks for coming by my blog  🙂  I will be going to Tir Righ’s Summer Investiture in the Shire of Danescombe with even more stuff, so if you missed out at Clinton, bring your swatches to colour-match and I’ll see you there!

Back to the business at hand, sorry for the delay in posting – suddenly we were packing and there was no time to write!  However, as promised, here are my pictures and method of getting that lovely blue out of my garden.  I used kind of a combination of three different methods:  Teresinha Roberts’, Cheryl Kolander’s, and Jenny Dean’s from Wild Colour.

It starts off with these beauties (who have, in the two weeks since harvest, almost doubled in size again):



I took as many of the big, mature leaves as seemed appropriate – the mature leaves apparently have more pigment.  It was a pretty small harvest, I got about 250g of leaves.  Then I rinsed them to get off any dirt and the associated unwanted pigments, not to mention bugs.

First Woad Harvest

Next, I tore the leaves up into smallish pieces, small enough to get out the maximum amount of pigment, but large enough not to go through my sieve.

Torn up Woad

I put the torn-up bits into my dyepot and heated it up to almost simmering, and let it steep in the hot (not boiling!) water for ten minutes.  Then stuck the whole pot into a sink full of icy cold water, to cool it as quickly as possible.  Two of my three sources said that it’s very important to cool it to 50° C in about five minutes.

Quick Cooling

While it was cooling, I made up a soda ash solution with a very scientific couple of tablespoons dissolved in about a cup of boiling water.  The indigo pigment will only dissolve in an alkaline solution.  One of my sources says the pH should be 9, the other two say that pH is important, but don’t give a number.  I don’t have any pH strips, so I guessed.  It seems to have worked.  After straining the leaves, I added the cooled soda ash solution to the woaded water, which turned it from green to a pinky-brown kind of colour (which I forgot to take a picture of, sorry!).

Next in the process was the incorporation of air into the dye liquid.  I chose to pour it between two buckets instead of using my kitchen mixer.  It took about 10 minutes for the foam to turn blue and the water to turn back green.


Pouring, with Bee

Still Pouring

Pouring one more time

Pouring Green

Blue Foam

After that, I added about a cup of liquid from my experimental mother vat a few weeks ago.  Did I post about that?  I decided to try to do the ginger beer thing and make a tiny woad vat that’s always fermented and then add some of that starter solution to temporary larger ones, instead of having to either maintain a big one or start it from scratch any time I wanted to dye something.  I used about the same proportions of madder, wheat bran, and woad powder (purchased) as my indigo vat, but in a 650mL jar.  I knew it was ready the day my boyfriend came home from work and went looking for the dead rat under the bookshelf . . .  Anyways, I added a cup of that, with the pre-grown yeast, along with some more wheat bran for the yeast to feed on so it could multiply in the larger pot.  Then I put it in the bathtub so it would have a good steady temperature, and waited, stirring it once or twice a day.

After about three days it was getting the ‘functional vat’ odour, so I started testing it with bits of paper.  Which was frustrating at first because it didn’t seem to be doing much of anything.  It looked right, but it just wouldn’t dye the paper.  Then I remembered the small amount of pigment I was working with (not to mention the fact that I’m used to working with chemical indigo vats), so I wetted a strip of cotton and left it in the vat for a couple of hours.  Ta da!  Gorgeous blue.  Which, I’m sad to say, I have no pictures of and it’s night-time now, so they’ll have to wait until tomorrow.