The skies are now full of swallows getting very excited. They’re darting around overhead making a lot of chattering noise as they prepare for their long voyage to Africa.
This has been a really busy weekend with lots going on. I’ve been dipping my toe in the water where dyeing is concerned, visiting the county fair and finishing off the purple mitts that I started a few week’s ago.
I have tried, in vain, to get any alum here in Ireland so I have resorted to using the wildcolours website in the UK. They’re really nice people to deal with so I am looking forward to a delivery of alum and 100g of undyed wool (which I also tried to get locally but to no avail). I was talking to my cousin Karen about not being able to source alum and she suggested using urine like they did in the past. While I’m all for using alternative methods where possible I think that I’ll give this one a miss. ( If this interests you there is information on the following website) http://www.textilearts.net/tutors/rosemariesmith/naturaldyeing.php
It turns out that at the moment there is no great rush as the blackberries are far from ripe and the elderberries are just about to turn colour.
Itching to get some dyeing done I bought a commercial dye by Dylon in my local wool shop. There were four colours available: dark green, dark brown, black or powder pink. Naturally I went for the powder pink colour.
I started by washing some newly spun wool. Then I diluted the sachet granules into half a litre of warm water. Next I added 250g of salt to a basin containing 4 litres of water at 40 degrees Celsius and then added in the dye mixture.
After a good stir I added the wool. I stirred the ‘mixture’ gently for about an hour and then left it for a few more hours before taking the wool out for a wash and a rinse.
I must say that I am really quite pleased with the results. Above is a batch of the original colour next to the newly dyed ‘tutu’ pink. I’m still waiting for it to dry so that I can start a small project that I’ve had in mind for a while.
Today I visited the County Fair which is one of those events that brings people from the rural areas and from the town together and you find yourself bumping into people that you haven’t seen for ages. Farmers, who you usually see in the local farm supply store wearing wellies and overalls, are suddenly donning their Sunday best or clinically white doctor’s coats to show off their animals in the ring. It really is a lovely day out and the atmosphere in the livestock area is buzzing.
I found the sheep categories very interesting indeed. As a person who is fond of wool and spinning I naïvely thought that the judges may be looking at the quality of the fleece but not so. It turns out that their main concern was the potential for meat supply therefore the animals were being judged on the size of their legs and shoulders etc. Many of the sheep had their fleece dyed a strange orangey colour. I had a chat with one of the stewards who said that it was to make the sheep look more attractive (???). He informed me that the farmers start to apply the colour about a month before the show and he compared the practice to “all of the young ones nowadays putting on this spray tan!.”
There were also equestrian competitions, craft competitions and best flowers and veg.
My absolute favourites though were the alpacas. These beauties were just on display to look at and not in any competition. They were behind a high fence which had donkeys tethered just in front of it. When I went behind the donkeys to say ‘Hello’ to my alpaca pals I got a kick from the hind leg of the donkey behind me. Luckily the blow to my calf was nothing too severe but it was still a bit of a shock.
I am delighted that I have finally got around to finishing the second mitten that was completed a few week’s ago. They are made on 5mm needles with Tivoli New Celtic Aran wool from Tivoli Spinners in Co. Cork. The pattern in the central panel is the Tree of Life often found in Aran designs and the panel is framed either side by a twisted cable. I have to say these knit up really quickly and are a joy to make.
They are so cosy and most definitely my favourite colour. I know that there is somebody who already has their eye on them so they will be put away until their birthday arrives in November.