Wild Chervil and Intentionally Wild

The other day, we went for a walk along the road, and found wild chervil, also known as cow parsley, poetically as Queen Anne’s lace, and systematically as Anthriscus sylvestris. It was growing bountifully there, so it’s certainly lucky that I have such a good little helper for these tasks:

pickingwildcarrot

I picked 180 g of stalks with flowers, which I boiled immediately for an hour or so. Next day, when the extract had cooled off, I strained out all the plant material and added a 10 g test skein of alun mordanted wool. The resulting color is very pretty, more yellow than green (yarn in photo, at least on my screen, looks more yellow than it really is).

dyedwildcarrot

FACTS – WILD CHERVIL, FRESH

Mordant 10% alun

Water Tap

Yarn Supersoft 575 m/100 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 1:18

Conclusion Nice yellow with green tinge

Possible improvements Looks good to me! But it would be nice to see if a smaller amount of dyestuff will still give good color

So then what remains is to test the light-fastness. If that looks good, I’ll be tempted to dye larger amounts another time. Probably next summer, because by the time I can test it, the plant is gone for the season.

I’m always surprised with the treasures that the roadside has to offer. In terms of plants and the dyes in them, I mean (there’s also a lot of empty beer bottles and candy wrappers to be sure). And now we are getting to the big point that I want to hammer home in this post: roadside biodiversity, and the lack of it!

The top photo of my daughter picking wild chervil looks like it’s been taken in well, nature. In actual fact, it’s in front of a truck terminal, by the side of a busy country road where lots of big tucks pass. Not far away, you find an off ramp from major highway in this area. And just look at the place in the picture. Tall grass. I spotted more that 15 species growing, without even looking.

I am always pleasantly surprised by bits of untamed land like this. The good people in the truck terminal may think that they are just saving a bit of money, but what they are really doing is allowing biodiversity.

The other day, I heard something on the radio about a new project here in Denmark. It’s called “vild med vilje” which translates into “intentionally wild”. It’s a project that promotes urban biodiversity by – here’s the big thing – providing you with a sign that you can place on your wild land. The text reads “vild med vilje”. So now, busy neighbors and other local busybodies can see that this was on purpose, and not somebody who didn’t keep their land “nice”. They may even go check the project website. They may start thinking about biodiversity themselves. They may use less Roundup. The project is still very small, but I do hope it grows! I would love to see more wilderness. It’s good for many species, including the natural dyer.

Jeg har – med god hjælp fra min datter – plukket vild kørvel og testet det i farvegryden. Det giver en dejlig gul-grøn, som jeg vil teste lysægtheden af. Hvis den er god, så skal der helt klart samles mere næste år. Den vilde kørvel gror overalt lige nu, juni, i vejkanter, der ikke er slået. Sammen med en hel masse andre plantearter, som giver et helle for insekter og fugle. Alt det kræver er, at folk holder den store industri-græsslåmaskine og roundup’en i ro! Forleden hørte jeg om et nyt projekt, vild med vilje, som arbejder for sådan nogle naturlige ånderum i byerne. Jeg håber de får stort held med det!

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Bilskirner Hat Prototype

I dyed this gradient a while ago, using madder and tansy, and the plan was initially a Bohus-style hat. But the yarn kept talking to me, and it said that it wanted something with much cleaner lines…

So I knit a hat with a very simple pattern of squares on a white background. Simple geometric, and in some way, a masculine decoration (although I think this hat looks good on a woman, too). So I decided to call this pattern Bilskirner, which is the home of Thor, possibly the most masculine of gods. I’m still thinking about a Bohus-ish hat, so that may still happen.

hat_0204

I tried to take some picures of the hat on the head of my sweet, sweet 5-year old daughter Dagmar, but she was just not in the mood for having her picture taken. The mood of the day shifted dramatically, though, when I asked her to take pictures of me instead. The camera is too heavy for her, so she couldn’t even keep it upright. But it didn’t matter so much to her that she didn’t catch the entire hat on most of her pictures, she was still very proud of them!

hat_0206

 

FACTS – BILSKIRNER HAT

Pattern Bilskirner, a pattern that I’m currently writing

Yarn Guldfaxe 100 m/50 g 100% alpaca

Needle 4 mm

Colors Gradient from madder to tansy, on a natural white background

Conclusion An enjoyable project – the alpaca is wonderfully soft, and I’m happy with the stranded square pattern. But I’m going over the shaping of the crown again to improve it before I write down this pattern

Hatten her, som er mit eget design, er strikket i ren tyk alpaka. Gradienten fra krap-rød til rejnfan-gul havde jeg egentlig farvet til et lidt andet design, men de farver blev ved med at hviske mig i øret at det var dette her de skulle. Min vidunderligt søde datter hvisker til gengæld ikke. Ingen kan være i tvivl om, at hun i hvert fald ikke gad at være model til mine hattebilleder. Dagen blev kun reddet af, at jeg lod hende være fotografen.

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A Gradient in Madder and Tansy

I love color gradients! They somehow make the colors pop in a different way! Some of the individual colors in my gradient hat were not remotely exciting, but together, it’s another story.

I kept imagining a warm gradient, from red to yellow. Sometimes such daydreams stay just that, but with this, I have come incredibly close to what I imagined:

grad

The red end of the gradient is madder, while the yellow end is tansy stalks and leaves (I used the flowers for something else already).

I achieve nice reds from madder by using rainwater. Some of my early attempts with madder gave only dull salmon shades because I used tap water, so now I always use rain.

It’s well known that madder contains two dye molecules, a red and a yellow one, and that the yellow is released when you increase the heat above 65C. So I always heat the dye bath to 62C (or “roastbeef” on my meat thermometer) and then wrap the entire pot in a blanket. That keeps it warm until the next day, and it saves a lot of energy.

FACTS – MADDER

Mordant 10% alum

Water Rain

Yarn 100% alpaca, 110 m / 50 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 1:1

Conclusion Rainwater and heating to less than 62C gives reproducible good results

For the yellow end of my gradient, I used tansy that I picked at the roadside on walks close to my house last summer. As expected, the stalks and leaves gave a cold yellow – the flowers give a warm yellow.

FACTS – TANSY STALKS AND LEAVES

Mordant 10% alum

Water Tap

Yarn 100% alpaca, 110 m / 50 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio 1:2 dry

Conclusion Cold yellow, supposedly a good light and wash fast one

Possible Improvements Leaves are difficult to remove from yarn – this is a dyestuff that could benefit from straining before yarn is added

And that’s it. The oranges in the middle of the gradient are madder exhaust baths, the last one overdyed with tansy yellow to make the transition smooth.

The next part of the daydream consists of a Bohus-style hat knit with this color gradient. I’m doodling away on paper right now to get it right before I start knitting. To be continued!

Jeg er vild med farvegradienter. Denne her fra rød over orange til varm gul har jeg lavet med kraprod og stilkene af rejnfan fra sidste sensommer.

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An Experiment in Cold Mordanting

Recently, I have wondered how much it is really necessary to heat wool when you mordant it. To the usual 80-90C? Or would 60C be enough? (Yes I wondered about that because I ruined some yarn, and I think I overheated it!)

So I turned to the knowledgeable people on Ravelry’s natural dyeing forum for help, and was told that you can cold mordant. No heating, just steep the wool in the usual alun solution without heating it. And for how long? Sea green and sapphire writes that it is enough to leave it overnight in a cold solution, and that “dyeing results are not compromised in any way by leaving out the heat”.

So it had to be tried! I took:

  • One 10 g test skein of wool, mordanted in my usual way: prepare a solution containing 10% alun. That means if you have 100 g of wool, put 10 g of alun in the pot. Dissolve the alun, add clean and completely wet wool, and heat it to about 90C for an hour. Then, I always just let it cool off in the solution until the next day
  • One 10 g test skein of wool, mordanted by leaving it in a cold 10% solution of alun for 24 hours.

Both skeins then went into the same dye bath in order to compare them directly. The dye bath consisted of 40 g of dried heather from last fall, I had wanted to try that for the longest time, to see if heather yellow is warm or cold. And the result:

testskeins

I am not able to tell the skeins apart, so the conclusion is that cold mordanting us just as good as hot. I think this is great news, because it really saves electricity!

The heater’s yellow is a wonderful warm tone, so I will definitely collect more this fall. Next time I dye with heather, though, it should be boiled and the dye bath strained before the wool goes in. The heather twigs are very difficult to remove – they are like small hooks inserted in the yarn.

FACTS – HEATHER

Mordant 10% alun hot or cold

Water Tap

Yarn Supersoft 575 m/100 g

Yarn:Dyestuff ratio dry 1:2

Conclusion Heating is not necessary for alun mordanting! 

Heather yellow is warm and wonderful

Possible improvements Remove heather twigs before adding yarn

De to nøgler garn ovenover er begge bejset med alun, men det ene uden nogen form for opvarmning. Det ser ud til at virke fuldstændig ens – en god nyhed, for det betyder en stor energibesparelse under naturfarvning. Nøglerne er farved med lyng fra sidste sensommer.

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Gradient Hat

I’m in hat knitting mode right now! As soon as this hat was finished, I had the next one on the needles. The pattern, a Danish one called “hue 1” (that just means hat 1, the book has more than one hat) really makes my brain go berserk with color scheme after color scheme.

hatfromside

I’ve cheated a bit since I didn’t only use naturally dyed yarns for this project: the black background consists of different commercial yarns from my stash.

FACTS – GRADIENT HAT
Pattern hat 1 by Lone Gissel and Tine Rousing, Nordiske masker
Yarn Supersoft 100% wool 575 m/100 g (plus some commercial stuff)
Needle 4.5 mm
Colors Privet berries (from our garden, winter) Indigo + tansy (bought + collected from the roadside, summer) Reed flowers on grey yarn (collected from the seaside, summer) Yarrow (collected from the roadside, summer) Mixed lichens (collected in the forest – this was bits and pieces I couldn’t type and in the end just swept into the dye pot) Parmelia sulcata (a lichen, collected in the forest) Dyer’s polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii) (a mushroom, collected in the forest, fall).
Conclusion Love it! The colors, the fit, the fox fur
hatalone
It’s often been said that any naturally dyed colors fit together, and I do think that is the case. I did take some care lining up colors that blended well one into the other, but they were not very hard to find in my big basket.
Another observation: I think natural dyeing is the best kind of yarn tourism. When I look at the hat and its colors, I’m immediately taken back to the places where I collected the dye stuffs.Well, not so much the privet berries from our garden, but other wonderful places we walked during the nicest months of 2014.Just one example. The reed flowers are from our august summer vacation in the southern part of Denmark, right on the border with Germany. I picked my flowers by the ocean, and I just had some fun trying to find the exact spot on the map. And I did it! The exact coordinates are 54.894576, 9.626491, and you can even see the mass of reed growing there when you use the max zoom of the map… Right next to a tiny harbor where you can stand on the planks and watch crabs hurrying around on the bottom. And when you look over the water, you can see Germany. Imagine, all that worn on a hat in the form of a stripe of yellow-green yarn!
Mønsteret til hatten er er fra Nordiske Masker af Lone Gissel og Tine Rousing, og det mønster bliver ved med at køre rundt i mit hovede i forskellige farvekombinationer! Her har jeg strikket den på en sort baggrund som er fabriksgarn, jeg havde liggende. Regnbuen fra grøn til varm gul er mine egne naturfarvede nøgler.

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