Monday 18 January 2010

A good Red

With everything that is going on at the moment the last thing I would have expected is a new commission! The photo shows the current state of my workshop - I am in the throes of packing everything down ready for the move - hence the even more cluttered than normal appearance - how on earth am I supposed to work in this state?

I needed to produce a good red - in fact replicate a colour I produced back in 2006. My notes could at the moment be anywhere - so I had to rely on educated guesswork!

I have used cochineal and brazilwood, as with my soft water I am more likely to get the correct colour tones from those dyes. I tried cochineal two different ways - firstly the whole bugs and then straining them out and heating them several times to extract as much colour as possible. The second method I used I ground the bugs up first, as finely as I could and then soaked them overnight. I have got some fabulous colours, the photo I've taken is not showing them to their best advantage but they are really rich and deep!

I did have a lightbulb moment whilst doing this work - funny how things hit you really! There is often talk about how much colour rinses out when dyeing with cochineal and after I had completed the first hank - dyed with the liquid from the whole bugs, I was surprised to see how little colour came out in the rinse water - this photo is the first rinse honest!

When I did the second hank in the ground cochineal there was lots of colour coming out - I was stunned, then I looked at the side of the washing up bowl after I'd tipped the liquid away, lots of little grains of cochineal stuck there - too fine to have strained them out before dyeing, and the wool feels fine one rinsed and dried, but the "grains" have to go somewhere! So my tip from this is use the whole bug, or be prepared to do lots of rinsing!

The brazilwood (100%) I soaked overnight heated to boiling and then strained the wood chips off. Allowed the liquid to cool down and then immersed the yarn. Re heated and cooled. Very simple basic method, but it works!

The brazilwood red is the one in the middle, the ground cochineal is at th top and the whole bugs is the one at the bottom. The colour matching seems to be quire accurate too!

Sunday 10 January 2010


I am feeling a bit grotty at the moment, Nick had "manflu" over New Year - but was vary "brave" about it and kept taking the french version of lemsip which we got from a local "pharmacie". He has very kindly shared the bugs with Dave and myself, so I am now on the english version of lemsips and not getting on as well as I had hoped! (John thankfully has so far warded the bugs off!)

To get a change of air we went out yesterday and John drove past the Drovers Arms our local village pub. Its at the junction of our road and the main road so we can't avoid it!!!

Outside were 2 snowmen that I just had to share with you all!

Aren't they fabulous?

There are times when I so wish I was artistic!

Just looked out the window and it is now snowing again - it had warmed up a little this morning and the icicles outside the back door were starting to melt. Obviously why!

Thursday 7 January 2010

A New Year ..........

Happy New Year to all readers here, it's started quite magically in more ways than one!

I love the snow - it reminds me so much of growing up on the edge of the Penines and being sent home from school and playing with my sledge in the fields behind the houses, etc, etc. We don't get enough snow in the winter anymore! Maybe in a couple of days I'll have changed that comment, but for now I'm sticking to it!

Christmas and New Year has been very much a family affair for us, Nick and Dave came over on Christmas Eve and stayed until the 4th January. We have played Carcasonne every evening (we are definitely getting adicted, adding in new extensions and characters too!) If you've not come across the game it's great fun - you try to build cities and roads and farms and earn as many points as possible (that's a girlie simplistic view of it!!!) It's difficult to say which of the boys was the best player - but John and I were left behind quite often in the domination game!

We went across to France during the break - left here on the 30th December (with Carcasonne packed in the car!!!) the boys came back on the 4th and we came back yesterday through all the snow.

We actually went to our new home!

We will be leaving here at the end of the month and moving everything over to our beautiful house in the north of France. (This picture was taken in the summer when we first saw it - this is what I fell in love with - a private inner courtyard with 2 walnut trees in the middle) It was just as lovely in the winter with snow on the ground and no leaves on the trees!

On the Sunday we had a day out at the seaside and had a long walk along a beautiful beach at Stella Plage, just below Le Touquet, Paris Plage, when we then drove up into Le Touquet we found all the land yachts and the clubhouse - I have a feeling that if I can't find John he'll be there playing on the beach! The day was gorgeous, but very, very cold. The walk was quite bracing to say the least!

This month is going to be taken up with packing everything that we've accumulated over the last 14 years and trying to decide whether it can be parted with, thrown away, sold, whatever - I'm a dreadful hoarder and can't bear to get rid of anything "just in case" so it's going to be very difficult!

I will try not to be too boring but think it may be fun as we go through things to go "back in time" with various textiley items and then discuss on here whether they should stay or go!

We are also keeping a base over here in the UK and will continue to run the business as we always have doing demonstrations and markets throughout the summer, The Mulberry Dyer is not going anywhere, but Debbie and John are having a home of their own!