I have grand sugarplum visions of handwritten dye cards (in cursive, please) with strands of my homegrown shetland fiber attached to each of them, marking the plant and details of the dye session. I admire very much, organization like this and this and oh, isn't this one dreamy? Additionally, all the formulas and details that I read about and see evidence of in other folks' dyeing experiments and natural dye books inspire me. Someday, I'll do that. I know I will. But for now, all my dyeing experiments are a bit of, well, a hack job, I guess you could say. Squeezed into moments of time in my days when I stumble across fading amaranth in the garden and think, "I wonder what color this would make on Charlotte's white fleece or Emily's gray one?" and then proceed to add another pot to the stove while making dinner. But this pot, the dye pot, is full of yarn, not soup. It's not precise and it isn't technical, but it does get the job done and I love doing the job.
With twelve fleeces carded and ready to spin, and with twelve sheep out there ready to be sheared again, I'm realizing that I needn't be so protective of my skeins of hand-spun yarn. They are precious, yes, but not too precious for experimentation and play. Hence, the reason I grabbed five skeins and tossed them into the dye pot a few nights ago. They were mordanted with alum and cream of tarter overnight. Then I let them sit for a day with the amaranth. When that wasn't showing much color, I threw in a few bags of frozen elderberries (why not?), and then, a little bit of washing soda as well. See? Embarrassingly not precise. A little of this, a little of that, letting things sit longer rather than shorter amounts of time (simply due to finding the moments to work on it in the day).
So, it may be that I'll never exactly replicate what I did in the dye pot this week, and I have no notes to show for it (except these here!), but oh, I'm thrilled with the results. It's a much more 'green' yellow than anything I've made before and I really do like it. The color was just the inspiration I needed too, to get it onto the needles and soon, onto someone's head. From pasture to studio to wardrobe, with a stop in the kitchen along the way.