Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Naturally Dyed - Nevada County Dyed

Probably about six years ago, I learned that you could get pretty good natural dye colors on cellulose fibers if you used aluminum acetate as a mordant.  I ordered some from Earthues along with a scouring agent.  Right about the same time, mushrooms began a big bloom on the mountain here - something that happens every year, but this particular season it was spectacular.  I started harvesting mushrooms and seeing if they would give me  good color on 10/2 tencel.  Some did, a lot didn't.  The Butter Boletes were pretty good and the Bitter Bolete gave me a soft green that was lovely.  Since I was on a roll dyeing tencel, I cracked out some dried marigold flowers I had harvested at the Nevada County fair grounds (after they had been uprooted at the end of the season by their gardeners).  Marigolds are an especially pleasing gold which was cool.  Then, over the next few years I dyed with locally harvested Osage Orange, dug up my madder roots and used those, picked Rabbit Brush at a little higher altitude and got a screaming good yellow.  A friend who lives nearby has a big Black Walnut tree and welcomed me coming by in the fall to collect the dropped walnuts in their hulls. 

My dyeing frenzy died down and I put all of the yarns away for an inspiration.  Over the years, I've used some of them, but I had dyed quite a bit of yarn.  Then, earlier this year our weaving group, the Not 2 Square weavers, decided to sponsor a textile challenge at the local fair.   The theme would be Nevada County inspired.  Most people decided to use a photo of something local for their inspiration, but I had the hot idea of pulling out all these tencel skeins dyed from plants grown in Nevada County.  Since I had so many colors and I wanted to include as many as possible, I opted for a plaid woven with five thread satin structures.

This is just a portion of the threading and liftplan I used.  I kept the Rabbit Brush usage to small stripes because it was rather overwhelming next to the more subtle golds and browns.  I had one skein of cream color from some mushroom or other which acted very strangely when I used the fly shuttle.  It seemed like it was sticky and pulled in at the selvedges.  I wanted to use it, so I kept tugging the selvedge back into shape after the shuttle was thrown.  I could see or feel no difference in the thread, but the dye process must have changed the texture of the yarn in some way.

The fair judging is over now and I have no idea how I did with my shawl.  It really doesn't matter all that much, because it was such a pleasurable journey in the dyeing and weaving.  It was really just for me that I wove it.
Now available for sale at Sierra Shawls.