Monday, March 2, 2009

The 'adventure' begins

Today, the crazy super-crafting officially starts. It's less than two weeks now until the Homespun Yarn Party:

Yesterday was probably my last day off until then...we bought equipment to bottle our homebrewed beer and went to a local thrift shop that has an excellent pottery & book selection. We bought a bunch of books & records, plus a pretty brown earthenware crock:

And when we were checking out, a lady who was standing nearby asked what we were going to use the crock for. I was kind of nervous, because the last time we bought a crock at this same thrift store, the lady at the checkout was like, "Do you KNOW what this IS?!" and gave us a short lecture about how it was this rare brand of vintage crock and we shouldn't profane it by actually using it to store utensils in or anything crazy like that. L and I are very practical people, and I don't ever buy things for 'decor', I buy things that I'm actually going to use, and we use crocks to make fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. So after a brief terrified pause, I told her I was going to use it to make sauerkraut, and to my relief she was delighted and started telling me how her mother used to make sauerkraut in giant crocks when she was growing up, and they used to have to climb into the crock and mash the cabbage with their feet! She was german, and we ended up talking to her for like 20 minutes about how when she moved to the US she was appalled at the food selection, especially the bread and the beer, so she had to learn to make her own. She was super animated and fun, and I wish I had gotten her contact info or invited her to come make sauerkraut with us!

Today, I'm starting work on dyeing my first batch of naturally dyed handspun yarn for the show. Here is the pile of mordanted skeins I'll be dyeing:

The bottom skeins are yellowy from the mordant I used on them - I'm experimenting with using plant-based mordants rather than the toxic metals usually used. Even though I won't be listing these skeins for sale on etsy unless there are any left over from the show, I'll be taking 'after' pictures of the dyed yarns to show you all. Wish me luck - natural dyeing is always an adventure (at least for me!).


Tara said...

I'm so excited to see how this goes! Will you be sharing what kind of natural ingredients you use for mordants?

liz aka hobbledehoy said...

I'm so anxious to see how your natural dyes turn out! And I've had prying shop-owners ask questions before- I think my local grocery assumes I bathe in the dozen gallons of vinegar I drag home.

Be Grim said...

I'm so envious of your crock! I've only ever found cracked ones or else waaaaaay overpriced. So I'm still doing my fermenting in a glass gallon jar. (works, but not ideal).
I'm curious what kind of beer you've been brewing?
And also wondering what you used for your "natural" mordant. It looks like it could be rhubarb leaves?

angella said...

yummy... have tons of fun. natural dyeing is the bees-knees, and as someone who only dyes celulose fibers meeself, other than the occasional lemon jiuce- i always save my pommegranate skins for mordanting along with those trusty rhubarbs :)

any other tidbits and hints you want to tease us with?

folktale fibers said...

Tara - I'm taking a few pictures & plan to talk about the dyeing process a bit in future posts. But most of the stuff I'm using is really commonly known, see below where Be Grim guessed the mordant ;)

Liz - Oh, yeah, I'm used to comments at grocery store checkouts by now, hah.

Be Grim - That thrift store is the only one that I've ever found good crocks at, for some reason they have this excellent selection of really nice antique & handmade pottery. Have you tried flea markets/antique sales? That's where I got my crocks in the past, they're usually about $10. The beers we're about to bottle are (1) nettle beer (stinging nettle, plus a bit of st johns wort & dandelion root) and (2) 'green fairy' beer, made w/anise, fennel, licorice root, wormwood, mugwort, and molasses. And, you guessed the mordant right!

angella - Cellulose fibers will be my next natural dye experiment (handspun organic cotton yarns) - I'm planning on using tannins (oak galls) for that, since I accidentally ruined my pomegranate skins while trying to dry them in the oven (it was so sad, I had been saving them for months!).

Beth Grim said...

Mmmmm...keep us posted as to how the herbal beers turn out. Veeerry interesting!
I'm planning to do some rhubarb leave mordanting this year, and also try the roots for dye.

Ripper Arts said...

I can't wait to see the after photos!

laila aka rawfish said...

how fun! i have been wanting to experiment with natural dyes more. but the thought of scary chemicals mordants has steered me clear of doing it at home (i tried it in a weaving class before). definitely share more info & pics! :D