Notebook

natural dyeing
  • Out of the dye pots...

    Here's what I've been up to and took with me to the trunk show at Yarntopia this past Saturday. What's left will be listed on my Etsy shop, Monday, November 14th at 7pm central time. (The spinning fiber is all sold, but I wanted to document it here, nonetheless. I hope to do more of it in the future!) I think the only color/bases not pictured here are "amarillo by mornin" and a lighter shade of "barely" in TexRanch WORSTED, both of which will be listed in the update tomorrow. 

    HIGHLAND BULKY 100 % U.S. grown & spun MERINO

    "serenity now" dyed with logwood

    "turquoise trail" dyed with Saxon blue

    "herb garden" dyed with rosemary, lavendar and Saxon blue

    "rainy day" dyed with cutch, saxon blue and cochineal

    "barely" dyed with avocado pits

    TexRanch WORSTED 52% Texas-raised kid mohair + 48% Texas-raised superfine merino; U.S. milled

    "westward glow" dyed with marigolds and avocado pits

    "prairie highlights" dyed with East Texas goldenrod

    "summer bouquet" dyed with marigolds, hibiscus, coreopsis and madder root

    "shibori" dyed with organic indigo

    "la botella" dyed with osage orange and organic indigo

    "distracted" dyed with logwood and cochineal

    "pokeweed" dyed with pokeweed, logwood and cochineal

    "thistle" dyed with Texas bullnettle, saxon blue and cochineal

    "new growth" dyed with osage orange and saxon blue

    "twilight" dyed with logwood

    "native summer" dyed with onions and marigolds

    "barely" dyed with hibiscus

    "Old Town" dyed with madder

    "desert in bloom" dyed with avocado (sometimes hibiscus) and cochineal 

    "spiral shell" dyed with avocado, onion and black walnut powder

    "blue jean jacket" dyed with organic indigo

    "straw bale" dyed with Texas bullnettle

    "leaf peeper" dyed with onion skins and saxon blue

    Interstate WORSTED 100% U.S. grown & milled superwash wool

    "blue jean jacket"

    "barely"

    "amarillo by mornin" dyed with cutch

    "palo duro" dyed with madder

    TexRanch LACE 52% Texas-raised kid mohair + 48% Texas-raised superfine merino; U.S. milled

    "la botella (light)" dyed with myrobalan and organic indigo

    "twilight"

    "mission" dyed with madder and indigo

    "spruce" dyed with onion skins and organic indigo

    "native summer"

    "blue jean jacket"

    Backroads WORSTED 100% Rambouillet, raised and milled in Wyoming

    "blue jean jacket"

    SPINNING FIBER

    Heritage breed, Gulf Coast Native Roving raised & milled in Texas

    "battle of flowers" dyed with marigolds

    Mohair locks from "Gidget" the goat, raised in Texas

    "shibori"

  • Slow yarn & process

    This art is a waiting game.

    Today, I'm scouring 2 dozen skeins of Texranch WORSTED. Two pots of 6 skeins each will fit on my stove at a time, each spending at least one hour there. (56 more are all queued up for their turn to shine.)

    As I tie the skeins and wet them out, letting them all sink to the bottom of the bucket at their own leisurely pace (this is how to know your yarn is thoroughly wetted, without squeezing and roughing up the fibers), I'm feeling sorta zen -- feeling like I don't mind that this is only the first of at least 8 steps before I can share a finished product. 

    Natural dyeing includes step after step that can't be rushed if you want to be happy with what comes out of the pot. Come to think of it, that's true of cooking, true of raising kids... probably true of most worthwhile endeavors.

    DAY ONE

    1.) Tie skeins and wet through.

    2.) Scour. Cool (read: wait).

    3.) Mordant. Cool.

    DAY TWO

    4.) Create dyebath(s) (boil then cool if using raw materials or mix extracts).

    5.) Dye. Cool.

    6.) Maybe overdye. Cool a bit.

    DAY THREE

    7.) Maybe overdye again. Cool.

    8.) Dry.

    DAY FOUR

    9.) Reskein.

    10.) Label.

    Moving slowly and deliberately through each movement of each step, I am content. 

    It's a labor of love, a slow process that -for me- must be flexible and subject to pause. When I feel impatient at it's slowness, I remind myself that it's this very quality of natural dyeing that allows me to wear so many other hats at the same time. Plus, I know that if I rush it, I'll be really unhappy with the product, unwilling/unable to share it, and uninspired to move forward (at least for a while). 

    I'm always telling myself to slow down (pretty evident looking back at Blue Highway's accomplishments so far). An oft-repeated motto this year, in business and life in general, has been "Just say NO to stress." As in, REFUSE it. Refuse to rush the process, to overly care if we're running late, to feel guilty if my house/office/studio isn't an Instagram dream, or when I drop a ball or three.

    Obviously, achieving this mindset is a constant work in progress, and, once achieved, it's fleeting.

    With so many ideas and inspirations swimming around, new methods to explore, untangling what has worked from what hasn't, coupled with general excitement... sometimes the path forward is unclear. Sometimes it's easier to stand still or debate and make plans rather than actually push forward into new territory. 

    When I'm stuck, I must remember to ask myself, What would you tell [a good friend] in your situation?  

    I'd tell her to slow down and enjoy the getting there. I'd tell her to take a step forward today, no matter how small, and then another and another. And remind her to celebrate all victories. 

    .....

    "You're doing really fine... You should take yourself out to lunch as soon as that yarn comes off the stove."