Saturday, July 14, 2012

Natural Dyeing with Lupines


Several years ago now, I had the chance to visit a place that was a sort of mecca for me....Taos, New Mexico, and more specifically, La Lana Wools.....a shop dedicated to plant dyed wools in all forms....I've been dyeing with plant dyes for 16 years now....12 years at the time of my visit, and I was awe of such a company that dedicated itself fully to this craft....While there I saw the most lovely yarn, dyed with lupines; a soft shade of chartreuse green...and since that visit, I've wanted to try a lupine dyebath...

This week on a wild harvesting walk....there they were....lupines in abundance...and so the dyebath was finally realized!
The organic merino yarn was first mordanted with Alum and Cream of Tartar....The lupines; whole flowering tops, chopped and gently stewed for a few hours...Then I added the yarn....sometimes I'm a lazy dyer and add the yarn directly to the dyebath without straining out the material....If it's an experiment and not yarn for sale....It sometimes takes longer at the end to get the plant material out, but it feels more wholistic to me....letting the actual plants and fibers mingle....and...after a two hours of gentle simmering, and another 48 hours in the pot sitting......

Green? no...Soft and lovely, yes.....The buttery tone would actually look beautiful knit with a purple blue like the lupine flower...The different result from what I saw at La Lana; different mordants? different time of year harvested? different soils? Any and all are possible...and that is what makes natural dyeing so delightful. I may not use lupine again as a dye...unless the receiver had a special connection to lupines.... like a lover of the children's book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (as I am).....



I'm so happy to have had the chance to try it....and add it to my dye experience collection.... I've actually quite warmed to soft gentleness of the colour.

A realized dream, new information, some beautiful cut flowers for the studio, plus a pocket full of lupine seeds....I've travelled the world, found a little house by the sea, and now need to find my way to make the world more beautiful! I don't think it'll be spreading lupine seeds though! Grin!
Warm wishes,
Fiona

10 comments:

  1. Read that story to my children many times when they were young... I still have the book. I was just trying to share that with my Japanese friend who just planted some Lupines.... Wish I lived next door to you!

    Cami
    Fiber Art Now Magazine
    camismith@fiberartnow.net

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Cami! I'm looking forward to heading back to Quebec this fall and pulling out some old favourites from my childrens childhood- I think I'll add them of the list of things to be brought out in our slow and gradual move across the country! This book is one of my all time favourites!
      I have some magazine ideas I'd love to discuss with you- I'll email soon!
      Fiona

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  2. It seems like that shade of yellow is what I get quite a lot when I try to do natural dyes. Mint was one of the only things that gave me a good green. I could see the potential of alder bark when I experimented with it, but I didn't give it enough time. Nettles made a silvery gray...

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    1. It is fun to play with isn't it! And we can always overdye anytime we want! I got beautiful green from comfrey consistently from one location, but when dyeing with comfrey collected from another spot, at exactly the same time of year (same year too) it gave me a warm soft brown....The wonders of plant dyeing! Such a treat!

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  3. Love the results! Thanks for sharing your process!

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  4. What lovely results with those beautiful lupines (though I would have thought there would at léást be a little bit of blue .... ;-)...) but you knew what to expect ! The photo with the finished wool ánd the flowers is wonderful.
    Your overdeyed purse looks great. Those rings : aren't you afraid of rust ??? I heard from by blogfriend Gabi ( ;-):during my visit) that she once had rust on the wool, of (probably cheap) felting needles ....
    It looks great though with the rings to attach the strap to.
    Thanks for your story and I wish you patience with the bundles ..... (grin)

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    1. Thanks, Els!
      I love that bag! I want to make two more in that shape this week.....with some stitching! I actually hadn't thought of rust until you mentioned it...but there is absolutely no sign of any on the rings....I'll have to check on the content of the rings...maybe that's why they won't rust...also, they are brand new with no rough edges or flaws that would invite rust....and they are only wet for about 2 hours then always dry....This is definitely my favourite bag strap attachment method, so far!
      So far so good on the bundles...I've opened Ginny's and will send to her...mine still waits...wow- just for another week- that went by sooooooo fast! xo Fiona

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  5. OH, my goodness! I love lupines. I love Miss Rumphius..and I love this blog post! So glad to catch up with it, Fiona! Just read a number of posts here since my visit (below)..I enjoy your projects and writing!

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  6. I realize that I'm commenting on an old post but my oh my! Miss Rumphius! I haven't heard this book in a long time and remember it being one of my favorites! I also had to finally comment on your most inspirational blog and work. It has me itching to hurry spring up to collect nettles and such to try my hand at some dyeing.I have just begun my adventures into wet felting after sculpting in needle felting for many years. Someday I would love to take one of your workshops. Saltspring is near and dear to my heart. It was my great grandparents pioneer home and birthplace to my grandma and great aunt. Cheers!

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