Wednesday, 5 July 2017
Spring berries and blues
This past winter I started some Dyer's Knotweed seeds much earlier than normal, in hopes of getting seed to set this year. Usually it blooms in September and there isn't time for the seed to set. The seed that I started in February germinated nicely. I transplanted it into large pots and again into planters, though the last one went into the garden. I noticed that it's starting to flower! Yay! However I decided to snip off the stems that weren't flowering in hopes of a) encouraging more growth and b) to see if there was viable pigment in the leaves.
I harvested 14 oz or just under 400 g of leaves, which I weighed once I'd stripped them from the stems. Although I don't think it's a necessity to do so, it takes less space in the container to cook the leaves without the stems. I stuffed them into a glass jar, set a trivet in the bottom of a large pot filled with warm water, and set the jar into that pot, making a double boiler. I cooked the leaves at 160° F for about 2 hours. As I was lifting out the jar, the bottom sheared off the jar, which was startling to say the least. Luckily, the entire mixture dumped into the large pot, saving an enormous mess. I would have added more water to the dye vat anyway, so it was all fine in the end.
I did have photos of the entire process, but some how I managed to lose them when I transferred them to the computer and deleted them from my camera. Normally I check to make sure they are where I want them before I hit the delete button, but for whatever reason, I convinced myself it was all good today.
At any rate, there was a reasonable amount of pigment. I don't know if I aerated the mixture long enough though, so it might have been a little more. I didn't weigh my fibres before I tossed them into the pot, as I was just playing around. There is Blue Faced Leicester, a Cashmere/Merino/Silk blend and both cotton sliver and spun cotton in there.