Sunday, September 30, 2018

Oh, Allium

Allium: any of a large genus (Allium) of bulbous herbs of the lily family including the onion, garlic, chive, leek, and shallot.

My garlic chives are abloom; they look like little clusters of stars.

In early spring the green onions are tipped with giant pom poms. They are delicious to look at.

The second week of every month the Rigid Heddle weavers meet at the Straw Bale barn in Atascadero. This month Lynn M. presented a mini-workshop on Natural Dyeing. Eleven of us arrived with our damp homework - ready-to-dye yarn and fiber - prepped in advance using the instructions and mordant ingredients (Alum and Cream of Tartar) we received from Lynn in August.

Lynn had prepared well for her presentation. Her display table included resource books, dye materials, and natural-dyed yarn samples.

We were impressed with her hand spun, hand-dyed, hand-knitted sheep to fox project. That is:
Lynn collected the wool from her own sheep,
washed and prepped the fleece into spinning fiber,
dyed the fiber,
spun the dyed fiber into yarn,
and then knitted the yarn into a soft fox.
A true wolf fox in sheep's clothing.

We were excited to dive into the dye pots as we plunged our fibers into the colorful extra large mason jars, simmering - double boiler style - on the camp stove.

Calendula (yellow), Cochineal (red), Coreopsis (orange).

Papery skins of brown onions turned the water a reddish orange color.

Oohs and ahhs as the skeins of yarn emerged from the dye pots.

The red dye of cochineal (it's a bug!) was a favorite but I thought the papery skins of Allium cepa made the most beautiful dye. It was amazing to see the transformations.

My beautiful natural-dyed yarn samples: Coreopsis, Onion Skins, Oak Galls. (Psst, not my hand spun yarn.)