Stocking up 

Over the last few months I have been foraging and collecting and stocking up on materials I can use for dyeing in the future.  Whilst walking I have been picking up lichen that has been washed off the trees by the rain and now have a small collection of two varieties.  I have still to research what colours these will yield.

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I found some fallen down tree branches and collected some silver birch bark .  I am hoping this will give a beautiful pink colours.

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Both in the UK and in the Netherlands , I have found is very easy to collect alder cones especially after all the heavy rain we have been having.  These can be used as a mordant , or a dye.  Only a few months ago I don’t think I really knew what these were. !

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I harvested some young bracken shoots and some dock leaves , which I have dried.  They don’t look very inspiring any more but hopefully will give green and browns.

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I have really enjoyed slowly collecting these materials and I am planning to collect berries and fruits in the next few months. Lots of dyeing to look forward to 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work in progress

Slightly delayed post due to problems uploading photographs when away from home !.

I recently went on a workshop , lead by Jeanette Appleton at the lovely Art van Go studios  in Knepworth.

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We looked at mark marking in felt and the effects of different densities of lots of different fibres.  I was introduced to Soy which I had never used and liked particularly the effect of flax.  The workshop was so relaxed , no pressure , unlike many of the other workshops I have been on there was space to experiment and ask questions.

I made a few a samples.

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And two pieces that need finishing off.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the great location and the workshop.  Lots  of individual attention and encouragement to take it easy and let the felt do the talking.

Why is small best ?

For the last few months I have been struggling to make large felted vessels using Shetland and BFL fibres.  I thought I had tracked down the problem to the resist I was using.  It was a slightly improved laminate floor underlay with a green backing full of  tiny indentations.  My side by side experiments showed that this resist slowed down the felting process and resulted in a bigger final piece.  Strange but true as these two vases below show.  Identical in all respects the one on the left is made with the green resist and is larger and has poorer quality felt.

  
So armed with what I thought was the solution and a new cheaper slipperier resist I tried again.  

Worse than ever !!  Full of holes.  Poor quality felt.

Some of this I put down to the Shetland fibre I was using which seems repel water and soap not matter how hard I try.  I was so frustrated I cut the holey vessel up and threw it in the washing machine for a couple of cycles.  Then I thought well maybe it can be reborn so it has now been up cycled into this naturally dyed landscape.

  

But I still want to make vessels , so I tried again, this time small.  One in BFL and one in Shetland.  I stitched them both and dyed them with onion skins.  I love the results , they are about 10cm tall. I just wish I could reproduce them at a slightly larger scale .   

It anyone has any ideas what is causing my problem I’d love to hear from you. 

Counting Sheep

  

The book called “Counting Sheep” by Philip Walling is a fascinating read for anyone like me who has an interest in wool.  Based on some of the 60 native wool breeds that live in the UK it charts their development , their history , and the realities of sheep farming today.  Although I cannot convince my family of the fact it is a really interesting read , I recommend it – there is  even a chapter on different kinds of sheepdogs . 

Historically  sheep were kept for their wool. Wool was the mainstay of the UK economy for four centuries.  Fortunes were made on wool production and export of the wool to Europe.    As the demand for meat grew , new breeds were developed , often with an impact on the quality of the wool.  Today sheep are almost exclusively bred for meat and the value of the wool although slightly recovering is very small. 

Whilst at Woolfest I was reminded of this book  listening  to Peter Titley  talk on  rare Britsh sheep breeds.   Many of these rare breeds were used in the development of today’s modern sheep. 

 The hebredians , sheep with a capacity to survive on really coarse grass .
  
This is a Manx Loghtan, another ancient sheep , native of the Isle of Man.

Blue faced Leicestershire were first bred around Hexham in Northumberland.  A very odd looking sheep , used to breed Mule sheep for their meat by crossing with blac-faced horned sheep. 

  
It doesn’t produce much wool , but what is does is lovely to use for felting. 

My favorite of all is the Herdwick , tasty meat , hardy sheep , not good for felting …. 

But excellent for hardwearing carpets.

  
As advertised by Wools of Cumbria Carpets Ltd , with this quirky carpet sheep.