Tag Archives: natural dyes

Lana blu

I think I’ve gotten all of the post-vacation brain fog and re-adjustment whining and rambling out of my system.

Abruzzo-clouds

I’ve spent the last week attending a training session and conference in my field, a grad school open house, and doing some networking.  I’ve been getting up at an ungodly hour to take trains to the nearby cities.  It almost felt like I was working again, but  it also made me feel lucky to work the few hours I do from home – I haven’t really seen daylight apart from a quick lunchtime walk for the last few days.  I’m a terrible commuter too – knitting, reading, and doing anything other than staring out of the window on buses and trains gives me motion sickness, so I spend the majority of the time fidgeting and stewing about how much time is being wasted.

But on to more important things, like wool.

A few posts ago, I wrote about meeting Valeria last year in Italy and buying her yarn.  And quite luckily, I was able to meet with her, and fellow fiberphile Antontella again this year.  You can read more about the Damiani Ovid and AquiLANA wool business in one of her recent posts here (Google translator is your friend).  She showed me many new yarns she’s produced this year – from delicate laceweights, to a gorgeous drapey one-ply fingering, to multiple plies in increasing weights up to bulky, and including a one-ply bulky that would probably felt/full quite well.   Luckily for her, she’s sold a good portion of the year’s stock (and for me or I’d spend myself into ruin) so I stuck to only a few skeins of the yarn in the new weights, and more of the aran/bulky I got last year in case I want to do some colorwork.

So when I say colorwork, I mean one color would be this intense lovely shade of blue – the exact color of the mountain sky.

lana

I’ve shied away from blue in the past – it’s one of those colors that I don’t like in the lightest or darkest shades, or in an “electric” form.  But it is also a color I’ve been gravitating to more and more in the past couple of years.  And I love that I have the creamy wool from the colors of the earth and sheep and now the blue wool of the sky.  Even better, the yarn is dyed naturally from Guado (Woad).

Abruzzo-octogonchurch

This trip was all about the blue sky – perfect weather and intense clarity day after day (at least after the first day which had an intense stormy sky that didn’t amount to much.)

plant with butterfly

And several of the alpine plants are blue too (along with the butterfly).  This one is Cardo, a thistle – perhaps also known as Sea Holly – it makes a yellow dye.

Abruzzo-blue door

And the ubiquitous old door – I wish I had a dollar for everyone who “just loves to shoot doors.”  I like old doors too, but I’m not out to make a calendar or something.  But I saw that the faded blue paint was the same color as my new yarn and had to snap it.

Abruzzo-bluebottle

And one of my trusty water bottles and favorite wool zippered jacket/sweater thing are blue too.

Abruzzo-Vasto

And though we haven’t seen it since our first Abruzzo trip in 2008, the Adriatic hugs the region’s eastern boundary, so the blue reminds me of the sea as well.

Valeria also showed me some gorgeous caramel colored yarn and the oak galls she used to dye it – she recently posted about it here too.  I got a couple of natural laceweight skeins with the thought of trying to dye it up myself with galls as well, though perhaps I’ll have to use black walnut since now that I’m looking for oak galls, I can’t find any – perhaps suburban pesticides keep the wasps away?

abruzzo-yarn

The other three blue skeins are a heavy fingering to sport weight.

yarn-laquilana

And along with the aran/bulky skeins, I’m thinking about some hats, or a shawl, or there might even be enough to eek out a short-sleeved lace pullover…

But whatever it might become, the yarn will certainly remind me of the amazing land, people, history, and animals from which it came.

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Fiber travels in New Mexico, part II

I mentioned in my previous post that I visited Tierra Wools in tiny Los Ojos, New Mexico.  Rather than paraphrase, this is the beginning of the description of their wool Shangri-La on their website’s about page (go there and read more later):

“Tierra Wools is a spinning, hand dyeing, and hand weaving workshop and a retail store. We buy carry local wool, and weave the yarn into beautiful weavings which are sold from our workshop in Los Ojos, a small village in rural Rio Arriba County in northern New Mexico. The enterprise is operated by Los Ojos Handweavers, LLC, a limited liability company owned by the growers, spinners and hand weavers that produce its goods, as well as supporting investors.”

I visited them around a decade (or a little more) ago, and at the time, it was a full house of wooly weaving and dying frenzy.  Sadly, it seems to have slowed down a bit and the weavers now work on commission, though the shop still offers classes and workshops.  And on Saturday, April 27th, they are having their annual Spring Harvest Festival with sheep shearing demos and other treats.  I can only imagine if such a studio was plunked down in a heavy DIY urban area, they’d have to fight people off with loom parts.  But I suppose it also wouldn’t be the same – the location is what this wool is about.  Much of the wool comes from just a few miles away as well as the dyes.  The colors in the yarn are reflected in the landscape and the products share the same rugged beauty with the surroundings.  Not to mention it offers a source of income in a place where there are few people but I imagine, fewer jobs.

While there, I stocked up on some of the gorgeous Shepherd’s Lamb organic wool products.  The wool comes from Antonio & Molly Manzanares from nearby Tierra Amarilla, who also sell their wooly beasts in meat and pelt form.  The color range of their yarns and rovings is stunning and some of the yarn lines are dyed with natural dye plants indigenous to the area.

I had selected a few skeins of sturdy Navajo Churro rug wool, but decided to buy two bags of brown and grey-brown roving instead.  The stuff apparently felts/fulls like a dream as well, so it might be the first time I end up fulling my spinning – until now, I feel like handspun is somewhat spoiled by fulling unless you’re making fulled singles, but this has the feeling of becoming something truly practical and hard-wearing, like dense nearly impenetrable mittens, or a hat with some sort of brim, or maybe an outerwear vest if I can eek out enough, but my history with vests is a little troubled…

Churro roving  Churro roving-detail

On the softer side, I picked out some organic Rambouillet yarn in DK weight.  I got two skeins of yellow which was dyed with Indigo over Chamisa, and one skein of green dyed with Osage Orange over Indigo.  I love that Osage Orange was used – it was one of my favorite trees growing up and always seemed so out-of-place exotic, nearly tropical, and the fruit is nicknamed “monkey balls.”   Who doesn’t love a monkey?  Balls!  But apparently though the fruit is inedible, it wards off pests so people put them in basements and cupboards.  But I digress, I really wanted more yarn and I was out-of-characterly very attracted to some tealy blues and lavenders, but I resisted.  I don’t as yet have a plan for this, though I’m leaning toward something shawlette-ish.

Shepherd's Lamb

New Mexico yarn

That wasn’t the most flattering shot of Northern New Mexico, though I do love ruins and murky colors, so I’ll leave you with a few more.

Northern New Mexico

I love this road – it’s the perfect antidote to the crowded East (except you have to be careful of the occasional elk).  This is also fairly close* to Tierra Wools.  The landscape of the north is more conducive to grazing sheep and other livestock.

New Mexico boney pile

A pile of bones, but not a boney pile.

New Mexico litter

Litter is bad, but vintage litter is cool.

Plaza Blanco

Another good day of hiking amongst amazing rocks.

New Mexico rock tree

Is it a giant rock, or tiny tree?

New Mexico rest stop

And I love these rest stops with private landscape viewing boxes – you can picnic free of wind and sun while watching dust devils snake below the mesa – just watch out for rattlesnakes.

And oh, holy hell, when looking up some of the abundant links in this post, I just found that there is an established “Fiber Arts Trail” in New Mexico, including a route dedicated to the Northern area.  I am ashamed to say that though I am somewhat of a professional researcher, I utterly failed in looking up anything about this before I went… Next time, right???

*About 40 minutes away, which might as well be next door out there.

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Filed under hiking, knitting, spinning, travel, weaving