What I did on my holidays

I really wanted someone to stop and ask me what on earth I was doing riffling under a hedge collecting weeds. The straight-faced answer I had ready was "I'm a witch and need some alliaria petiolata for my cauldron".

That's not far from the truth. I read a few weeks ago that this plant (aka Jack-by-the-hedge or garlic mustard) can be used as a garlicky flavouring for lamb or salad. When I first spotted some, I excitedly rubbed some leaves but decided with some despondency that lots of imagination was needed to mistake it for garlic; it did have a distinctive flavour, not much scent, but what really grabbed my attention was that it really stained my fingers green.

That's why I've been spending some of my Easter holiday scrabbling around under hedges and boiling up leaves. Annoyingly, without much success, as it turns out. The corriedale has come out with hardly a hint of green in it.

I've not given up on this. I do have a lock that I dipped in early on which has dried out looking quite green. I'm going to try again another day.

While I had the mordanted fibre in my hands, I decided to try some cammomile. I've read that the flowers give a lovely yellow colour, and I have some in the kitchen (which I sometimes use in an infuser to make a drink).

The result: well, not very successful, but it is yellower than it appears in the picture. I deliberately only dipped it up to its waist in the dye, so that I'd get a mixture of the yellow, the natural white and any green which might be perceptible. When this is dry I'll spin it to see what it looks like.

I've also been playing with a turkish drop spindle (and videoing it). I've really enjoyed using it. It's nice to use - it's nice and light but spins well. The fun part is that it slips apart when you've finished spinning or plying, leaving your yarn in a neat ball.


Anonymous said...

I really like the chamomile dyed wool - it's a lovely subtle shade. My natural dyeing has not been going terribly well - I got a lovely rich shade from the onion skins but (due to my impatience and inability to resist prodding the wool from time to time) I managed to felt it in a few places. Thankfully it's not a complete right off - I'm sorting through it at the moment and separating out the spinnable stuff - it's certainly going to give me plenty of joining practice! I'll post pics as soon as I've spun a little of it.

I checked out your recent videos and they're great! I found the andean plying one especially helpful - so far I've been winding my singles into balls on my nosty then putting them under plant pots to ply - it works ok but it quite a time-consuming way to do things so I'm keen to try other methods. Your video will be a great help when I come to give andean plying a go! Thanks!

Scout said...

"dipped it up to its waist." hee hee

This is fascinating. I'm so ignorant of what grows out in the world, I'd be afraid of picking poison ivy.

Scout said...

Just watched the video—that must take forever to spin enough yarn to make something with, but it's interesting. I especially liked seeing your trumpet sitting ready to be played with the spinning's done.

peahen said...

Really pleased that the vids will be useful, Rebecca. I find that for practical skills, still pictures are no substitute for watching it being done. Hopefully a couple of still frames will have helped to make it all a bit clearer - I'd appreciate honest feedback when you've tried it! Great to hear that onion skins worked for you. Now that this latest batch has dried, it's quite a rich lemon colour. I too manage to felt it a bit, I'm not very careful about temerature changes! Nice to hear from you Scout. I'm ignorant too - but I have a nice book now (called 'Food for Free') which is really good and makes it clear that you're picking the right thing (particularly with the fungi!) It took a few hours to spin 30 yards (when 2-plied). Knowing the speed you knit, I guess you'd knit that skein much more quickly than I spun it. Like any craft, the time spend doing it is secondary to the pleasure you get while doing it and (usually) with the finished result. Yes, the Sovereign is always at the ready! I took lots of footage and didn't realise it had snuck into so much of it! (Did I ever show you this...? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HzoFFzDeNg)