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A step forward … in a witch-like way

February 7, 2018

Late last year when I began embroidering coffee sacks and realised the need for lots of threads, colours and textures; thinking that I might spin and dye my own.  I did get out my spinning wheel and that proved successful for some shades but dyeing was more problematic.

I had a go with inks, while I did have some happy accidents, it was not reliable and there were disasters.  Using an indigo in a vat was exciting; I felt like some woman from the middle ages and noting my appearance I may have looked the part in my garden shed in the depth of winter.  Sadly, due to my vigorous stirring and the use of iron instead of alum my indigo turned out green; a nice green but not blue as I wanted.

Then, I tried solar dying, a jam jar with some dye and mordant is placed on the window sill the energy of the sun will supposedly after a few days with give good colour.   This made me smile, although my front window is south facing and does get the sun from time to time; February isn’t the time.  Weeks later, 3 jars for the world to see containing what looks like vegetable soup with an ever-growing layer of mould are standing waiting for the sun.

If I had wanted to look like an old witch then I am going down the right path.

So, thinking that the embroidery season may be closing and the need for thread is now.  I must find a quicker and more reliable way to source colour from natural dyestuffs at home.  With much research I have found a way; the results are pleasing; it looks like I may be self-sufficient, at least using dried plants or powdered seeds and bark and easily available from the www. Growing my own will be a different ball game and I will have to wait for the sun.

Yesterday, using madder, dyer’s green weed, and weld with alum, iron and copper I have 6 lovely shades: brown, red, dark green, light green, dark brown, yellow.  In just a few hours, in my kitchen with no mess or harmful chemicals; the witch-like qualities remain but a small price to pay for delight.

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