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Friday, 1 August 2008

A Tangle of Tansy

Amongst the weeds in the "vegie-patch-which-isnt" grow these lovely yellow button-flowered plants called Tansy.
There was a useful site at Allfibrearts which described dyeing with Tansy.
According to them Tansy grows well in the north east USA and western Canada as well as all over Europe
I harvested a basketful and used the plant in two batches. I cut the flower heads off to use first and then chopped up the stalks to use later.

This selection of dyed wools shows the results of the Tansy and Gum leaf experiments.
From the left...
wool mordanted with alum, left damp in a bag for a few days and then cooked up with tansy flowers. Tin added at the end for a few minutes. This produced the really striking golden yellow that you see in more detail in the last pic. Second from before but no tin added. Third from left...wool mordanted with alum and left damp in a bag for a few days then cooked up with chopped, dried gumleaves. Fourth from the left...wool mordanted with copper sulphate and then cooked up with dried, chopped gumleaves and on the right...wool mordanted with copper sulphate and then cooked up with chopped, dried Tansy stalks.

I'm thrilled with all the results. I was worried at first that they would all be shades of sludge but instead I find them to be a pleasing blend of colours that will knit up well together into a throw which will always remind me of my walled garden.

I'm having a ready made chicken coop with an attached run, delivered on Tuesday. This will be sited on the weed/vegie patch but before it can be placed there I will need to scythe down the weeds to a level that the chickens will be able to move about in. If I put them straight into the patch I would probably never see them again! The weeds are higher than me in places.

It's harvesting and hay-bailing time so the roads around here are full of tractors hauling huge loads around the countryside. The last week has been fine but the rain is moving in again. I hope all the farmers have got enough done. I have kept my aga burning to prolong the good spell of weather. But I did go to Farmways today to pick up a new waterproof jacket. This is a SUMMER waterproof jacket! Much needed around here.

No knitting done recently because of the spurt of dyeing and I've used up all the Wensleydale Longwool and have started on some superfine Merino. I don't like spinning it as much and shall head off tomorrow to the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop to get some more white tops.

Have a good weekend
Cheers for now Gillian


Walled Garden said...

Sorry, but the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop link does not work. I can't find a fault to edit so you will just have to google it yourselves.
Cheers Gillian

Heide said...

How lovely! In the northwestern US tansy is considered a noxious or toxic weed and land owners are required to get rid of it. I think it has something to do with it growing fast and dangers to livestock, but I'm not certain. Anyway, I can't wait to see the throw you make with the lovely yarns.

sue said...

Oh that golden yarn looks beautiful, as do the other colors. It seems you have been really living your life the way you want to know. It sounds so relaxing and wonderful and the countryside looks beautiful too. Will you have fresh eggs to eat with the chickens too. My dad used to have quite a few chooks when we were young and we used to love feeding them the snails in the garden and collecting the eggs, ah so long ago now. Looking forward to seeing what you knit out of those beautiful colors.

joco said...

Hiya Gillian,

You will be careful with the tin mordant, won't you?

Years ago I did my dyeing on an AGA, and the wool was stewing away, releasing its deadly stannic acid fumes into our kitchen.

We didn't feel too good for a while.

I know better now :-)