Last week I had a rare opportunity to leave the girls with our mum and go to a natural dyeing workshop at Croft 7. It was sunny and I enjoyed quiet driving in the countriside. And the Croft is situated in such a lovely corner of the Highlands nature!
Sheila, who is a textile artist and feltmaker, was teaching how to dye with daffodils and lichens. I already knew something from the books but it was great to see how someone experienced does it. Plus I have learned couple of very important facts:
1. that where I can get some of the material locally. Like e.g. my alum at a chemist (and yes, I just have a new Alum stock from Boots, they didn’t have it but ordered it for me. It was cheaper than from an on-line dyeing supplier plus I didn’t have to pay the postage and had it quickly.)
2. I need to be as gentle as possible whenever wool gets in contact with water. I read it in the books but didn’t pay much attention. I simply presumed that once wool gets wet felting is inevitable. It doesn’t have to be so. So now when I soak the wool or dye it I really try not to move it too much plus to keep the teperatures of different baths similar and not to “shock” the wool. And I have already seen results. The last batch of merino was so soft that I didn’t have to card it and I could easily pull wisps from the sliver. It is a great relief, I was worried I would have to card all the wool I naturally dye…
The workspace. On the right different mordants.
On the left merino dyed with daffodils. On the right merino in the dyebath made from lichen called “old men’s beard”.