Given a choice between the two which would you choose? Both are dyed with lichen. I heard that there was a chance that I could dye the “purple”. My Canadian friends had a dye bath and I was visiting post Convergence in July. Of course you can dye they said. And of course I was going to. The tan skein had been dyed last year.
This is the story of my Canadian souvenir.
At Convergence, I acquired 2 skeins of silk from John Marshall. I now had something to play with.
There were two dye baths. Both used a lichen called by its common name “rock tripe” or Umbilicaria Vellea. This lichen is brown/black and has curling edges. It is slow growing as many lichens often are and grows on rocks. This was collected in Ontario.
This is the process that two friends carried out and that I took advantage of.
The lichen was dried scrunched and pulverised. It was then put in an airtight jar and covered with one part ammonia and 2 parts water and left to ferment. There were two jars of liquid prepared by two people with slightly different approaches.
The first was left to ferment in a dark cupboard and stirred 3 times a day for 4 months before it was used for the first time when it gave a dark purple.
The second jar was not in a dark cupboard and was stirred vigorously daily. Its initial result was a lighter shade of purple.
However I arrived when the dye bath was now six months old. We wondered if it was still viable. My wonderful friend Bev elected to dye my two skeins in the two dye baths while I went off to do something else.
I decided to keep one skein as a solid colour while the second was tied for ikat. That was an interesting process as I didn’t have any of my usual ikat tape so I resorted to strips of plastic which of course stretched and were pretty useless. After wrapping loosely (up to stretch point), I closely wrapped some thread to create the resist. The thread was actually loom waste from another friend.
I had carefully tied it so that each end mirror imaged itself. It was carefully measured as I wanted it identical. I knew that the end project was going to be half the width of the skein so they had to match.
Here’s the basic procedure as described by Bev. Thank you Bev for granting permission to use your images and of course for allowing me to share your process.
Both skeins were soaked in warm water overnight.
The skeins were put in the two dye baths. Here’s one.
The next day the skeins stirred, squeezed and rolled in towel, then air dried.
The unbound skein ended up in the “dark cupboard bath”. It turned out a beautiful shade of purple.
The other skein was thought to be too light so the process was repeated by putting it I the “dark” dye bath.
Now something interesting happened. Bev was not sure whether this has happened previously but she noticed that when it was removed from the dye bath it morphed from tan to purple when exposed to air!
Later she tried it again: I kept thinking that the skein was not taking the dye, as it looked tan with purple blotches when I pulled it out of the dye bath. Walked outside with the skein in my hands and witnessed colour transformation. This time she got to record it. This series of images shows the progress of the colour change. This will be worthwhile testing with a new dye bath.
I came home with my two skeins. This is the bound skein with the binding partly removed.
But what to do with them? When it came to unwinding both skeins, I realised how fine they were and decided to take a safe option and put on a warp of 60/2 silk that I had in a similar colour.
This balled yarn shows no correlation to the original skein. When weaving care will need to be taken to keep the colour spacing continuous.
The width of the project was determined by approximately ¼ of the circumference of the skein.
I was very happy with the pattern. The width related closely enough to the skein dimensions that the resist/dye areas shifted slightly each row of weaving. It has created an interesting progression of pattern I think. One was woven in plain weave.
And a close up view of how the ikat shifts and progresses.
I then had enough for a second scarf, woven in a combination of simple twills. Here are both scarves finished. The weft for solid colour used in the bottom border is form the other dye bath.
On another dyeing experiment: Another friend gave me two skeins with the direction that they could be woven together. So here they are. This project also fits very nicely into theory for the next studio class.
And the finished scarf. Weaving with a warp faced twill has resulted in both sides having a different colour effect.
In passing I will mention a series currently on ABC TV (Australian Broadcasting Commission). Joanna Lumley is following the Silk Road. It may be worthwhile watching. The first episode opened with a look at velvet weaving in Venice. Maybe there’ll be more textiles. https://iview.abc.net.au/show/joanna-lumleys-silk-road-adventure.
This week coming is the Weaving with colour class. They’ve got some great challenges coming up.
12-16th November: Woven shibori with only 1 place left.
10-14th December is The Special where students can weave anything, explore any technique and weave on any of the looms.
Last Monday was the first BYO loom class. There were four attendees, all working on different projects. I look forward to seeing their efforts in a month’s time. These classes are held on the 4th Monday of the month till and including November.
21-25th January 2019: Linen and Lace.