This summer I started out with two small beds of woad on opposite sides of the garden. Normally I don’t grow woad in the same bed two years in a row because it doesn’t do well the second year. I know you ought to rotate beds to interrupt pest and disease life-cycles, and I thought we were doing pretty well with this considering that our garden isn’t that big. My woad has been plagued by slugs and cabbage whites, but I’ve never had serious disease before. I’ve always chalked-up the deficiencies of a second-year woad bed to a nutrient problem, though I’ve never actually tested “before” and “after” soil samples to find out exactly what gets depleted. So, my original two woad beds this year were not planted in the same beds as last year. Continue reading “Woad Gets Club Root”
I finished another rya! I wove it in record time between July 13-July 20. That was the week of our recent heat wave, which was grueling in every way. The one good thing about it was that, thanks to the heat, I spontaneously woke up at 5 each morning, and got busy weaving by 5:30. I wove a few rows before work, then wove a few more in the evenings, plus a couple marathons on the 13th and the 20th. Continue reading “Woad Blue Rya”
I finally finished this rya that I’ve had to un-weave and re-weave four times due to various problems and mistakes. The oranges and yellow-orange are dyed with orange cosmos. The brown is black walnut, and the blue at the center is dyed with woad. What looks like a solid orange block around the outside is actually two shades of orange, the darker blending into the lighter. Continue reading “Orange Cosmos Rya”
Last summer I grew three beds of woad. This spring they all came up and bolted very happily.
Here is a close-up of a woad plant in bloom on May 4, 2013. You can see the family resemblance to broccoli, mustard, and other brassicas.
Here are two beds at peak bloom. Very fragrant! Even a little stinky! Continue reading “Saving Woad Seeds”
Today I wove the wood thrush’s “egg” part of my nest-like rya. The egg is dyed with woad and Queen Anne’s Lace. The nest is dyed with black walnut. The darkest shade of brown right around the egg is hand-spun naturally brown Romney singles combined with my darkest shade of black walnut. Romney is a breed of sheep. I bought a huge bittersweet chocolate colored fleece many years ago at the Webs Fleece Market, but alas I can’t remember who I bought it from.
Once again, thanks to a snow day on Tuesday, I have made more progress on my new rya this week than I might have otherwise. Nevertheless, it is posing many challenges. The design is supposed to resemble an egg in a nest (Matthew’s idea–Thanks, Matthew!). Specifically, I’m thinking of a wood thrush egg, which is a very beloved bird to me. My colors are shades of tan and brown, dyed with black walnut, and blue-green for the egg, dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace and woad. Wood thrushes like to incorporate white material into their nests, so there is a very light colored layer around the outside of my design. Continue reading “Nest Rya”
I finished my rya! Here it is enjoying the warm sunshine outdoors this morning.
The yarns were all hand-dyed by me last July (2012) using woad from my garden and Queen Anne’s Lace from garden “weeds” and from scrubby places around town (e.g., under the powerlines and along the sides of Route 9 and Main St. here in Amherst). The blues are dyed with woad, the yellows are Queen Anne’s Lace, and the greens are Queen Anne’s Lace overdyed with woad. The mordant is aluminum sulfate. The yarns are single ply rug wool. Each knot is made with three strands of yarn. The warp is 8/4 unbleached linen.
This is my 100th post, and I feel very pleased to have made something so pretty to share on this occasion.
Thanks to a snow day on Friday February 8th, courtesy of winter storm Nemo, I got a lot of weaving done on my rya. I was well past the mid-way point by mid-day on Saturday. However, I decided I wasn’t satisfied with the transition from green to celedon to yellow at the center. In the process of redesigning this transition, I decided to make the whole design taller, i.e., more square. I wasn’t looking forward to all the extra work of re-weaving, but I decided I’d rather have a piece I was happy with. Continue reading “Re-Weaving the Rya”
After about two years of planning a series of naturally dyed rya wall-hangings in my mind, I am finally weaving one! I am very excited about it. There are many steps involved. First, I dyed pounds and pounds of woolen yarn. You can read about the process in earlier posts: black walnut, Lady’s bedstraw, Queen Anne’s Lace and woad, and orange cosmos. This project features Queen Anne’s Lace and woad.
Then, I set up the warp. It is 8/4 natural linen from Webs,124 ends, a little shy of 21 inches wide in the reed, set at 6 ends per inch in a 12 dent reed, sleyed 1-0-1-0-1- etc.. When it’s done I expect it will be about 14 inches high. Continue reading “Rya Weaving”
Well, as it turned out I wasn’t all that satisfied with the huck lace snowflake bookmarks. The variegation in the color made it difficult to see the pattern distinctly, and the shade of blue didn’t help either. This was ironic because I had been extremely happy with the yarn when I dyed it. It’s a nice dark blue, which is not easy to get with woad on cellulose. But it’s a bit too dark for effective lace, it seems. Not enough reflectivity, perhaps.
Here are a couple images of a snowflake motif in woad blue 40/2 linen.