Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Natural Dyes

I attended the Estes Park Wool Market event a couple of weeks ago, and took a class on using Natural Dyes from Stefania Isaacson.  It was an amazing day; five groups of students dyed skeins of yarn a total of 18 different colorways using madder, indigo, and five plants that produce yellow dyes.  My group used marigold.

Bright, isn't it?  We then overdyed the various yellow yarns with madder and indigo to produce oranges, greens, and browns.  Everyone went home with samples.  I learned so much about creating colors and controlling temperature, additives, and timing.  I will be doing more natural dyeing in the near future. 

I took a couple of sock knitting projects with me on the trip, finished one pair and one sock of a second pair.  I decided against taking my large red shawl project but I have been working on it since returning home.  Another class that I took at Estes Park was a Russian lace knitting class taught by Galina Khmeleva.  My interest was in learning and using various lace patterns to design knitted projects; I am under no illusion that I will ever knit a "gossamer web" shawl like Galina.  I used size 0 needles and fine yarn to make samples of different Russian shawl patterns, and Galina taught us how to make a knitted lace border.  I had never made a lace border like this before, and it gave me some ideas for the red shawl project: how I could add a Shetland or Russian style lace border on to the triangular shawl. 

The days in Estes Park were part of a long road trip that included time in the Santa Fe area.  One of my favorite places to visit is the Ortega family's weaving studio. 

Using looms traditional to the area, the studio produces many different kinds of woven goods.  It's always fun to see the looms, the work in progress, and the shop where rugs, clothing, bags, and other useful and beautiful objects are displayed. 

In addition to working on my red shawl, I am still spinning lots of cotton.  I bought more Sea Island cotton at Grandma's Spinning Wheel in Tucson, near the end of our road trip.  This wonderful store also has Churro and Shetland roving.  Speaking of Churro, thanks to La Plata ranch, which supplied us with samples of Churro fleece locks to use in our interpretive program in Old Town; we will be there several days in July and the natural dyed yarns will also be part of our presentation to the public.