...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Monday, April 18, 2011

From Garden to Kitchen...and Beyond

Some items make only a pitstop in the kitchen when they leave the garden. In fact, some people grow "dye gardens" simply to raise things like Madder Root and Cosmos to use as textile dyes. Museums and old manor houses (like the Conner Prairie one first visited in the last post) actually have outbuildings dedicated exclusively to fiber work. Here, a huge loom occupies half the building while a fireplace and large spinning wheel fill the other side. The fire place, however, is there for more than just the spinner's or weaver's comfort on chilly days. It is utterly functional. Wool must be carded (cleaned), spun and then dyed near heat in a pot of dye-water near coals hot enough for the color to set. Then it is hung to dry in the rafters. These artfully wound skeins are the result of the yarn being wrapped on a niddy-noddy. (Niddy-noddies are the wooden tools you see hanging alongside the spun yarn.) Most of us now, however, prefer to use more modern kitchen appliances and techniques to dye wool. I ordered some undyed roving from Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Etsy and discovered the store's related blog has a couple of good posts on dying your own wool, given here as a link: http://windrosefiberstudio.blogspot.com/p/dyeing-tutorials.html

Besides that one, another good blog post for information on dyeing your own wool is this one:

http://knittingwithsandrasingh.blogspot.com/2010/10/plant-dyeing-wool-yarns.html I'm spinning my yarn fairly well now, for larger chunkier pieces anyway. I made the orange, gray and blue yarn shown in this piece of knitting. The next step naturally takes me back to the garden. This season I'll study on it--as is always a good way to begin; but next year, I may dedicate a part of the yard to be a "dye garden" of my own.

Happy coloring!

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