Monday, 1 December 2014

An Update

This summer has I think been the busiest we have ever had - certainly travelled the most and we've spent quite a bit of time at our UK base. Internet access there is not good! Hence a distinct lack of keeping up with posts. Facebook is a little easier as I could take a photo and post to the page, so that's what I have tended to do. It is actually quite difficult to keep up with all the different social media places we can post and also to know which is the best to maintain.

It is also time for a change - the website is very old and clunky and I can't add in pictures anymore, so I'm thinking of trying to design a new one over the winter, I have no real experience of this so it will be a real learning curve. Logic says I should also try and combine the website and blog together, so I may have to start afresh as they say. Until then I will try and get back to writing here!

We are now having to go for a walk every day. John had a heart attack 3 weeks ago, he's come through fine, but obviously he has to excercise and think about what he eats so we are having to look at changing a few things. At the start of the year I had an idea of walking and photographing the seasonal changes and then using the pictures as inspiration. Hopefully a bit late I will be able to do this!

Afternoon Tea has become a big feature of our life - it isn't every day (it can't be as we have 2 starvey days a week) but we try to have tea and cakes at all the markets and also when we are doing demonstrations. At home they are also important - watch out for the stock that is always in the picture, YOU may be inspired!

Looking forward to getting back to putting thoughts and experiences down here.......

Saturday, 21 June 2014

WW1 and Khaki

If you follow me on Facebook you'll have read that this year we have lots of demo work commemorating the Centenary of the start of WW1.

In the past I would have said "ugh chemical dyes, no way!" But having started researching the colour Khaki not only is the subject fascinating I've discovered they used lots of natural dyes too!

In the age of "let's patent that" we appear to have a patent for every variation of recipe that they could come up with to produce the colour.

Actually I should perhaps clarify Khaki a little! The word I understand comes from Urdu and means earth or mud. The colour itself can be anything from a tan to brown to olive to grey. It is attributed to Sir Harry Lumsden in Peshawar India where In 1846 he was trying to raise a troup of Guides. He was apparently told to make sure they were "loosely, comfortably and suitably clad" Not a thin red line then! He went to the market and bought white cotton cloth then took it down to the riverbank, wet it out and then rubbed mud into it. He dried and ironed the cloth and made shirts and pants for his troups - hey presto they blended into the hills around!

This colour was adopted officially by the British Army not long afterwards.

So far I have tried a couple of recipes - 1 for cotton and 1 for wool. The cotton definitely looks "khaki" but the wool is not what I would have thought of as that colour. The recipes are different but both are based on cutch and fustic with the use of chrome (eeesh devil's mordant!!!) The wool is also fascinating in that I dyed both Blue Faced Leicester and Merino together in the dyebath - what a difference in the way they have taken the dye!

We will be selling cotton bags, yarn and bookmarks during the year and making a donation to Help for Heroes from the sale of each.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Don't throw it away!

2 days ago I decided I needed to use a boiler, lifted the lid and immediately held my nose! There was liquid in there that ponged, had a scum of mould on the top and the liquid (when I got through to it) looked colourless.
"That's going" thought I so started scouping out the liquid into a bowl to throw into my waste liquids tank. When I got close to the bottom there was a thick layer of gloup - sludgy, squidgy gloup!
I scouped this out but then thought "wonder what happens if I dye with this?" Found a pan and poured it in.
Rooted though mordanted stuff and found 100g shetland tops and worked it through the gloup. I heated the pan to almost boiling - must have been about 90 degsC. Simmered for about 1/2 an hour and then left it to cool down. When I took the tops out I was stunned at the depth of colour there!
The I added 100g yarn and reheated - well basically did the same again, still more colour but slightly paler.
Haven't added anything else yet, but I don't think it's exhausted!

I should add that this was originally a madder dyebath in use about 6 months ago - I'd used a different boiler to my normal one and then forgotten it!
Just shows you shouldn't throw anything away certainly not without checking it out!