Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Things You Learn

I started the second lichen dye vat.

The right is the first vat, started on 12/20. The left is the second, just two days old. If you look carefully, you can see the hue of dark red in the jar on the right side.

From what I read on my fellow Japanese spinners-dyers-knitters blog sites, the lichen dyes develop into burgundy red in just three weeks or so. My first vat is still not there yet -- it's reddish brown, but not much pinkness in it. So I went back to reading the book again -- Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book by Karen Diadick Casselman. According to this book, North American lichens produce orsallia (the purple-red dye) in ammonia fermentation method in 16 weeks! The Japanese species produce the dye in just 3 weeks. Piffle!

I am still hopefull, as I can definitely see the deep color developing. Also, I really haven't been able to identify the species of lichens I used (and the book is not very useful for identification), I may have a mixture of species that might produce the dye quicker...

See the hint of redness (jar on the right) in the reflections on the kitchen counter?

More on lichens -- Charlie went flying with his friend Bill yesterday, and came home with a grocery bag full of dried beard lichens.

Apparently there were "tons and tons" of these around Bill's mountain cabin. Charlie swore that these were taken from the fallen trees (he reads this blog religiously so he knows that we shouldn't harvest from live trees). What a wonderful gift. I have to go get another glass jar so I can start the third vat. And who knows, this may develop much faster? The book says Usnea (the beard lichen species) produce purple dyes, but no indication as to how long it takes.

Things you learn by reading a knitting blog, huh?

On the "real knitting" front, I started Brooke's Column of Leaves scarf with Blue Sky Alpaca Liz gave me for Christmas. Note, readers -- as Brooke says, this really needs to be blocked to show the beauty of the pattern (well, here's my excuse).

It's really a gorgeous pattern, but it sure is hard to knit. I can only do two leaves a night. If I try to follow the stories on TV (like House last night), I make mistakes. So, it will be March when I have enough length to call it a scarf. I won't be wearing a scarf then!

I am also itching to start a new pair of socks. I love knitting socks, and have been happy with the welcome responses I'm getting from the giftees -- except Mitch. I knitted nine pairs last year -- not too bad considering my first pair was done in late April. I plan to complete a dozen pair this year. A pair a month -- sounds right.

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