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Posted 12/17/2010 8:23pm by Eugene Wyatt.

A great color for a scarf.  This is an example of the color variation that natural dyes give for reasons as numerous as the colors given.  But which color for which reason.  I suppose according to T. H. Huxley, who coined the term agnosticism in 1869, you could "follow your reason as far as it will take you," then what. Sometimes this means not actually reaching any conclusion. 

It's a color, a nice color but we may not be able to get it again.  Why? Well truthfully, I don't know.

The recipe that was followed for No Name Brown was the same as the recipe that dyed the colors shown in Iron Magic.

This color was dyed in a limited editions of 16 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/17/2010 5:45pm by Eugene Wyatt.

My father's been going through 20 years of old cooking magazines, looking for interesting things to cook and hoping to clear up some space on his bookshelf. Last night we enjoyed this delicious stew, pulled from a back issue of Saveur magazine.  Elise, Simply Recipes.

Ingredients

    * 3 1/2 lbs. lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces
    * 6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
    * 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    * 1/2 cup dry white wine
    * 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    * Salt and freshly ground pepper
    * 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    * 3 canned roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
    * 1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
    * 4-6 sprigs parsley, chopped
    * 1 bay leaf
    * 1/2 cup dry, full-bodied red wine
    * 1/2 cup chicken stock

Method

1. Combine the lamb, 3 of the garlic cloves, rosemary, and white wine in a medium bowl. Let marinate for 2-3 hours. Drain the meat, discard the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Mince the remaining 3 garlic cloves and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with lid, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Return all meat to the pot. Add onions, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, scraping browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, add roasted peppers, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, and red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until juices in pot reduce and thicken slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Add chicken stock, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Adjust seasonings.

Serves 4 to 6.

Posted 12/16/2010 1:20pm by Eugene Wyatt.

 

I put a Nikon 70mm-200mm f2.8 VR zoom lens on a Nikon D700 FX camera to shoot portraits.  Using a longer lens I don't frighten the sheep by getting too close to them.  This photograph was taken hand-held about 12 feet from the subject: 1/400 sec at f11 with a focal length of 105 mm and at ISO 400.

 

 

To demonstrate how good the Nikon 70-200 mm lens is, I enlarged a portion of the photo in Lightroom to show you the shadow of the ewe's eyelashes on her cornea In the original at a file size of 14 MB the shadow is even more demonstrative than in this smaller web version of 400 KB.

Note: The yarn photos are taken with my studio camera, a Nikon D80 DX with a 18mm-135mm f4.5 zoom lens, a camera with a smaller capacity.  As you can see the yarn photographs are not quite as sharp even though the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Posted 12/15/2010 9:14pm by Eugene Wyatt.

 

Gray Heather is different from other yarn; it is a dyed-in-the-wool black and an undyed natural white  wool that are mixed together in the card before spinning.  They are mixed to not-be-mixed-well so there is a variation of blacks and whites and grays in color visible along the fiber after it is spun.

 

 

If the wool were worked in the card longer it would be a more uniform gray. 

The spinnery has a sequence; they spin natural whites together as a group spending a month or longer on those, then they do natural colored (blacks and browns) wools taking a couple of weeks spinning those; then they spin dye-colored wools, which was when the Gray Heather was spun, before they go back to natural whites.  Between each group they must clean the card so one wool does not contaminate the color of another.


Card

The card at Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney Vermont
 

About 3 weeks ago I dyed 25 pounds of wool black then shipped it to the spinnery to be carded with the natural white. Yesterday the Gray Heather arrived, today we washed the spinning oil off 4 pounds and will take that with us Saturday.  It always feels good to have something new at market.  Next week we will overdye the heather giving us tints of blue, red and green all the while maintaining the visibility of the dark and light variation underneath.  The heathered yarns are popular and we will do well with them.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep. Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Heather Department of the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/12/2010 7:32pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Surprisingly, the last time I sourced Osage Orange I could find no liquid extract; there was only sawdust available from which I would have to extract my own dye. Busy then and busy now, I had several ounces of liquid extract left and I had other yellows, a  Fustic (from the heartwood of the tree) and  a Weld (from the flowering stems of the plant), that I could work with.  I would wait.

The week before last week while ordering more natural Indigo, I was told that Osage extract was now available.  I ordered 2 lb; feeling more secure, I dyed a pure Osage last week.  It is a yellow that tends toward a green, less full than the Fustic and less bright than the Weld. 

But if the truth be told, the yellow from Osage is a difficult color to get when dyeing with the more modern acid dyes.  Subtle mixing of synthetic dyes, those of complementy colors—both secondary and tertiary, is required to get this hue; and more importantly, to get  the muted feeling that comes so easily from a  natural dye extract made from a harvest of Osage trees growing in Oklahoma.

This color was dyed in a limited edition of 16 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with earth friendly,  natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/10/2010 7:16pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Cochineal is dear. It dyes these lovely pinks after an Alum/Tartar mordant and it now sells for over $500.00 a pound.  This was the color I was trying to get last week, but getting poor coverage on the skeins I had to over dye them with indigo to get an equally lovely color, New York Twilight #10.  Having a pure cochineal pink completes a basic, but minimal, color story told by natural dyes at the stand and in the Yarn Store.

Cochineal is not a vegetable dye; it is from the Dactylopius Coccus insect that lives on the Prickly Pear cactus in the desert.  10,000 of these insects (the females only) must be harvested to make a pound of dye extract.

This color was dyed in a limited edition of 24 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/9/2010 7:33pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Today the high was 29°F.  The duck's pond froze over last night.  He walked across it to join the sheep; he's looking to curl up next to a warm ram out of the wind and get his 40 winks

When we feed the sheep he comes over and we throw him some oats.  From time to time he's seen paddling around the ram's heated water tub looking big and silly.

A couple of weeks ago a male mallard flew in to the pond with two females.  The newcomers swam around.  The duck eyed them.  For some reason it didn't work out and they flew off.

Tags: The Duck
Posted 12/9/2010 8:34am by Eugene Wyatt.

As the first volume, Swann's Way, of Proust's In Search of Lost Time has concluded on Twitter @proustr, the administrator has assured me that the second volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower will begin tweeting as early as this weekend.  With 500 plus pages  in the second volume at ~140 characters an hour it should take a year or more to finish the book.

In the second volume dealing with Marcel and his adolescent love for first Gilberte then for Albertine, Proust uses a more comprehensible sentence structure. I was unsure, even after reading  Swann's Way if I could finish another volume but 60 pages into  the next one I knew I would finish the seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time so familiar I was with the characters and with Proust and his rendering of their thought processes in his sometimes difficult syntax, but most importantly with his new found irony, that which seemed to be sparing in Swann's Way, as I found myself delightfully amused reading of a swooning teenager in fin-de-siècle Paris and at the same time,  knowing I was reading Proust for enjoyment rather than because, he being an acknowledged  master of Modernism, I felt that I should if I were to consider myself—or be considered by othersa well read person. 

And as you can see I like long and complicated, but grammatically correct sentences, that hopefully have their necessity.

Here is a shorter passage from In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower that I came across this morning when reading the more recent translation by James Grieve:

And since I loved her, I could only ever see her through the confused desire for more of her, which when you are with the person you love deprives you of the feeling of loving.

Tags: Proust
Posted 12/7/2010 7:45pm by Eugene Wyatt.

This was to be a straight Cochineal, a baby pink; it looked great in the bath until I pulled the skeins out and I saw they were dyed pink in some spots and not dyed at all in others.   No one would buy these  as they were, I was sure. The baby pink  I wanted would have to wait another week because these skeins had to be overdyed with indigo if there was to be any chance of selling them.

The Indigo blue parts of the skein are where the Cochineal did not take up well; the purple parts of the skein are where the Cochineal shows through the Indigo overdye. 

I showed this color in New York last weekend and did well with it; people were pleased and so was I.

This color was dyed in a limited edition of 48 skeins.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm.  Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available from the Yarn Store.

Posted 12/7/2010 7:30pm by Eugene Wyatt.

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

When his love for her had ended, the desire to show her that his love for her had ended had also disappeared. 

Marcel Proust 1919; translated by James Grieve 2002.

Tags: Proust