A little post for AJ

A few days ago several of you kind folks offered me some great suggestions as to what to do with these here hollyhocks here:-) One lovely suggestion came from AJ. She wondered about natural dyes- e.g. red onion skins! It was a wonderful idea but there is a hitch- in fact several. Natural dyes are beautiful for sure but they are not nearly as colourfast as the new Procion MX dyes I use. Also, just like trying to mix Kaffe Fassett fabrics with other commercial fabrics- ya just rarely get away with it! The colours just do NOT work together. The hand dyes I  are brilliant, clear colours and my natural dyes , also beautiful, are VERY subtle! Lastly, the natural dyes work splendidly on wool and silk and linen but they are pretty pallid on cottons. So, sadly I had to forget the idea of natural dyes.

That said, I did confess to AJ that I HAD done a LOT of natural dyeing and hand spinning once upon a LONG time ago in another life. I promised I would photo my baskets full of yarns for her. SO...here they are. I was REALLY shocked to see that the little tag labels on my skeins are dated 1978!!!!! My babe was born in 1977 so this stuff is OLD ( sorry Katherine!) It was a joy to do . I intended to weave with it but I found my neck and back were not up to weaving so I have baskets full of lovely natural yarns and lovely DYED yarns just languishing in the darkness of our cellar. DD is a knitter. Maybe she'll knit something woolly some day? Anyway, here are some of the yarns I spun and dyed , AJ!
Madder, Onion skins, indigo, Queen Anne's lace, Buckthorn, Logwood, St John's wort, and a natural black fleece

Some dyes with my wool cards, a lovely cherry  drop spindle hand turned by DH, fleeces of all sorts including ratty looking black goat 

 A GORGEOUS Mi'kmaq willow splint basket I purchased years ago in Nova Scotia
So there you have it folks! My spinning, natural dyeing career ( well, obviously not the WHOLE career!) in a couple of baskets. BTW, I believe the pinkish skein beside the cards is sumac. I smelled up the entire house for days making sumac dye- smelled like fruit jam . The First Nations folk make sumac tea as a medicinal drink. I used to know a whole lot of this stuff! I know that sumac tea is fuzzy tasting because of the sumac flowers and not a yummy drink. It is likely efficacious though.

And , a parting shot- here are the hollyhocks to date. I am playing with details at the moment and the blooms are sitting on top of the fabric I bought for the background. I have some transparent fabrics I MAY use for background too. The colours are not too accurate here. Need to reset my White Balance!
In fact , the colours are wretched here but you may be able to see the process?
Cheerio for the moment folks. Happy Labour Day Weekend. Be safe, be careful, wear your seat belts and your life jackets ( hopefully not together).


  1. I used to be a weaver too in the late 70's early 80's:) I just decided to divest myself of my little Ram loom. It has been sitting in the back basement for years. It's now in the garage as I type this to be given to the charity shop. I just have to find a few of the parts that go with it.

  2. Yes, our life before... lol See, it is coming together. I'm sure our past spurs on and encourages our currant decisions.

  3. So you do come from a very experienced dyeing background. That explains your expertise. I'm just amazed at the shades and intricacies in the hollyhock and the transparencies that you've achieved with the silk.
    It's wonderful.

  4. I'm a very amateur spinner (wheel -- never could get the hang of a spindle!)...and have used natural dyeing only on silk (wrapping silk around bark and leaves and letting it 'percolate' creates great fabric for tree trunks in my minis!)...Otherwise, its MX and acid dyes for me too. Love the rich colours! Do you still spin?

    1. I do still spin from time to time. I use a little single driveband Sleeping Beauty wheel I bought at Romney Wools in Toronto a hundred years ago!! DD seems quite keen on the idea of spinning . She is a knitter, crocheter so some time when she has time and space U will give her my wheel

  5. Hah! I will give her my wheel? U are safe:-)

  6. Thank you for this! And what makes that gorgeous blue in the top photo? I want a jumper that colour.

  7. Oh beautiful things here in the basket - K.. will use it - little boys need a lot of warm things. And I like the grey background behind the pink hollyhock.