Friday, May 06, 2011

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Damselfly’s Delights is SIX YEARS OLD today!

And this is Post #1,135. Whoo-hoo! Yes, even I’m impressed with me and my “stick-to-it-ness”. Thanks, Blogger, for giving me a place to babble to my little heart’s content. And an especial huge thanks to my Dear Readers! Sending you certified germ-free cyber-kisses. Without you all it would just be me babbling to myself. I do that anyway but still…it’s nice to know you’re there.

Our Spectrum Study Group, or at least half of our number, met yesterday and we had a good play with the red bug dyes: cochineal and lac. Of course I forgot my proper digital camera so these are craptastic out-of-focus images from Ruby, my iTouch:

SilkChenille in Lac

This is the lac bath showing some gorgeous silk chenille that just slurped up the deep grape colour. And here’s a bubbly scarf in (I think) tencel and wool also in the lac but not yet simmered very long:

Tencel & Wool Scarf in Lac

It ended up quite a lot darker and the two fibres are quite different shades of burgundy, one more purple and one more red. The other bath was cochineal:

Cochineal Bath

And for once we actually got true red instead of purple. No idea what caused the shift apart from a different batch of bugs! It did go a little more to the crimson side as it simmered than this photo shows. Usually no matter what I do I get a purple rather than anything that could be described as red. Natural dyeing = Magic. Definitely not predictable. At least to me.

I brought my skeins home bagged individually wet and not yet rinsed and waited until today to rinse them out. Consequently these are still wet so the final shades will be lighter:

Lac and Cochineal

From the left, that’s 12% lac powder on rayon pre-mordanted with alum acetate, lac exhaust on wool pre-mordanted with rhubarb leaf, and 5% cochineal (crushed bugs) on wool pre-mordanted with alum acetate. Interestingly, the cotton ties on the cochineal-dyed skein are purple even though the wool is red! Mysteries.

Lac – extracted from the insect resin used to make shellac. advantages: a little cheaper, easy-to-dissolve powder, extremely light and washfast on silk and wool; disadvantages: unpleasant odour, muted colours, hard to rinse out excess dye.

Cochineal – from bugs that are cultivated on nopal cactus. advantages: high dye content, excellent light and washfastness, wide range of bright colours; disadvantages: expensive, dried bugs need to be crushed and dye colour extracted.

As usual, I’m quite happy with the results. Though you could say I’m pretty easy to please because I think all the natural colours are beautiful in their own way. And they all go together amazingly well too. I was glad to find out that the fine yarn really was rayon and dyes easily because I still have at least a kilo of the stuff. I know. I need to get weaving again some day soon, don’t I?

Next Spectrum will be here in my dye studio as we play with madder. At least it smells better than that stinky lac!


Evelyn said...

Happy Blogiversary! That is a lot of blogging! Beautiful colours - stuff I have never tried dyeing with before. Looking forward to the madder too.

Anonymous said...

Happy Blogiversary! Always a pleasure to read. Not a natural dyer myself (show me the chemicals!), but love the results you're getting.

Louisa said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Evelyn and Judy! Truthfully I'm really only recently learning about natural dyes. I learned to dye with synthetics nearly 45 years ago in high school and I still use them nearly as much as the naturals. Different dyes for different results and uses.

Ev said...

Happy blogiversary, Louisa!! I always enjoy reading your blog even though I don't comment all that often.

Suzanne said...

Happy blogiversary Louisa! thanks for all the great tutorial over the years, I learned a lot. Very fun to read your musings on garden, family and crafty obsessions.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Louisa. Your number os posts is quite impressive.