Here's how our foremothers did it!
The 24th (I think) annual Folk Festival at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum took place last weekend. Three hot days dyeing fabrics with natural materials like indigo, bois d'arc wood, cochineal bugs, avocado pits, green walnut hulls, logwood. Friend Pamela McManus and I entertained almost 4000 fourth-graders and their teachers on Friday. Saturday and Sunday were for families. The kids were especially intrigued with "indigo magic"--when indigo-dyed fiber is taken out of the pot, it's bright green. As it hits the air it oxidizes and turns blue before your eyes. "OOOOOhhhhhhhhh!"
Pamela and I were both dressed in 19th century outfits which got grubbier each day. Dyeing is messy work even if you're careful. It has taken four days of scrubbing and hand lotion to make my purple cuticles presentable again. But we did get some beautiful yarns and fabrics to use in stitched and woven creations. (Pam lets me keep the fabrics.) I'll show off a few photos below.
Here are some of the dyed yarns, together with the woven piece I made from last year's dyed fabrics.
The drying racks and clotheslines. We dyed old doilies, silk scarf blanks (see the purple one on the left?) and cheap WalMart prints (see the red one in the background) as well as prepared white fabrics.
Some were tied, some clamped,some just scrunched in the dye bath. We also overdyed pieces that we weren't satisfied with, and toward the end we were chucking anything fiber into any dye bath that remained. There is still some dye left over, so next weekend we'll get together and finish it off with some more fabric.
Bobbe Shapiro Nolan, Fiber Artist in Eagle Lake, TX. Trying to learn to call the sewing room my studio, and myself an artist. I retired after 15 years in hospice nursing--so now I have the time!.