Saturday, September 24, 2005

To Dye For

Today was one of those really great days. Just doing what you enjoy, with friends that share your passion, without regard for time. These are so very rare.

Once a year, the local knitting guild puts on a dyeing day at a woolen mill, about an hours drive from the city. The mill does commercial processing of wool, and other animal fibres, including some dyeing. Today, they hosted a dye workshop using natural dyes. We used Cochineal, Logwood, Arbutus, Black Walnut, some local burning bush, and pansy, and a few other items. These are all cooked for a long time, then the wool was added, and cooked for a longer time, and finally rinsed.

We were a bit disappointed that some of the dyes didn't take hold on the wool. There may be various reasons, but the colours are not intense. Natural dyeing rarely is, and all our colours today were rather subdued. Here they are all hanging out in the sun, drying.The mill is a working museum. The machinery is quite ancient, collected from all over the continent, and brought to working condition. It is a fascinating experience to see it all in operation. Today, they were all silent. The mill is operated by an unusual couple. They are so laid back! They purchased an old railway station that was being dismantled and moved it to the farm. They have been "fixing it up" for ages; the children have grown up, and are gone. It has a certain charm you will never find anywhere else. And they just take each day as it comes.

While we were waiting for the dyes to cook, we tried our hand at a few other things: needle felting, felting on the felting machine, dyeing with commercial acid dyes in the microwave. It was all fun! Of course, we had to take a run through "the store" -- how can anyone get out of there without purchasing anything?!!

All in all, a good day. Now, to catch up on some of the sleep I missed out on last night.

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