Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome ...

to my new blogosphere!  I am happy to have moved my blog from my website ( to blogspot and hope to write on a more regular basis.  I will cover everything from my sheep to wool to natural dyeing (oh, and the chickens of Camp Chickenheart).

Dyeing-wise, this has been an exciting week!  For anyone following my old blog, you know that last October I started a lichen fermentation dye.  Scraping gray-green lichen from a few of the trees on the property, I put them into a jar along with water and ammonia.

 The goal was to achieve a magenta color that is only given off by a certain type of lichen.  After one week in the jar, I could see a deep red developing.  This told me that I had collected the proper lichen. began the wait.  To get the true magenta, the lichen had to ferment for twelve weeks!  Also, the mixture had to be stirred (okay, I shook) vigorously every day to incorporate oxygen into it.

This past week, I strained a small amount of the liquid into a dyepot and added a bit of water.  I then soaked some silk chiffon scarves in the dyebath overnight (this dye is not heated).  And here is that amazing color I was working for!

It is almost unbelievable that such a color could come forth from these unassuming little lifeforms.  I now see lichen everywhere I look!  Even in the background of movies!  They are everywhere- just waiting to be met.  I love them!

I have yet to dye any wool in the bath, but I will be doing that soon.  I need to mordant some wool first so that it will retain the color.  I have kept the soaked lichen as I will be starting a new fermentation and will be adding some new to the old.  I hope to keep this dyebath going non-stop.  The adventure continues...

While I have lots of dyed wool that I am processing by hand, I have been playing with the leftover dyes and some silk chiffon scarves.  I have to say that dyeing these scarves seems to give "instant" gratification.  Not like dyeing wool and then still having various processes (combing, carding, spinning or felting) to undertake in order to bring it to some kind of form.  I also enjoy the way that a simple piece of silk allows one to experience the beauty of color!  This really has been such fun.  Today I used a tjanting tool to apply beeswax to an osage orange-dyed silk, and then overdyed with indigo.

  Here it is, drying on a branch of the redbud tree. Next I will need to iron out the wax. This is all just a basic batiking method.

Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be in the 60's!  It will be a good day to rake out the sheep cottage and spend some time with them.  I think that they really miss that human contact when the weather is so cold that I just stay out long enough to do what I have to.  Today I sat down inside the shed and Willow immediately came over and laid down next to me-chewing cud. Such a wonderful little flock-I love them all and look forward to sweet, milky mothers and their spring lambkins (not to mention Mr. Cloverfield, who is always so proud of his children).

 It is the end of January and I am already dreaming of Spring!