Sunday at Sheep and Wool

Well, today turned out to be a gorgeous day with just a couple showers. No thunderstorms or hail, thank goodness! In this post I’m just going to follow up on the St-John’s-wort dyebath, and show some photos of my set-up in the pavilion at the Cummington Fairgrounds.

First, here are some of the samples I brought to show. In the basket on the left are yarns that are dyed with plants you have to grow or purchase, and which don’t grow wild around here. These include madder, orange cosmos, weld, purple basil, Lady’s bedstraw, and marigolds. In the basket on the right are yarns that are dyed with a woad vat to make blue or green (woad-blue on top of yarns previously dyed yellow). The pinkish colors are from exhausted woad leaves, second year leaves, and my sole attempt at a urine vat.

cultivated color

Below is a basket full of colors that can be obtained from wild plants and umbilicate lichen. Wild plants represented here include yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod, tansy, wild mustard, yellow sorrel, sheep’s sorrel, black walnut, St-John’s-wort flowers, poke berries, purple loosestrife, and northern bedstraw. All the pinks are from umbilicate lichen vats.

wild colors


These two baskets show cellulose yarns and cloth. The basket in front is linen and the one behind is cotton.

cellulose fibers

To be exact, some of the cloth in the front basket is a linen-rayon blend, but it behaves more like linen than cotton for dyeing purposes. In the center are the swatch books from my MassAg workshop. I guess they are a little out of place there.

Here’s what the plant debris looked like after I strained the St.-John’s-wort dyebath this morning. Still pretty bright.

strained St-John's-wort

The skein had sat in the dyebath all night, and was a nice medium brown.

St-John's-wort in the morning


first St.-John's-wort skein

I pulled out this first skein and put another 4 ounce skein of the same pre-mordanted wool yarn into the exhaust bath. After an hour it was totally blah. Here it is next to the brown skein.

both St-John's-wort skeins

I decided not to save the exhaust skein. I suppose I should have kept a little for my notebook, but I’ll have to made do with a visual record.