Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a dirty job, but.....

I must have passed the breaking point. With all the new motivations I have had in the last few days, and the ideas for new creations and technique modifications starting to fade, I have to get organized and get busy before I loose at least a portion of each. And, with taxes organized, I have no excuse. I did manage to get a few things done yesterday, but it happened again. I'm sure I'm not alone in the experience. You gather your thoughts and musings into a plan, set down with tools in hand, and within minutes, its clear. A essential component is missing. Or at least, present in a wholly inadequate portion. In my case, it was black wool. Not that I had NO black wool, just not enough of the fine stuff. Iv'e made do for months now. I used the hairy stuff, not liking it, and hoping no one would notice. But with a season of Dutch bunnies, Border Collies, Holstein calves, and of course, sheep, I couldn't ignore the need any longer. If I want some nice, fine, black wool, I'm going to have to wash and dye it myself.
So, I hauled out the tub and retrieved the buckets from the yard. Fortunately, I noticed them blown by the wind into the south fence the other day, or I would have wasted time looking for them in the garage, the shop, the barn, etc. It's not really that bad, I guess, time wise anyway, but its not pleasant either. I have refined the process. Fill the tub, shake out the wool, and push it into the hot soapy water. Let set, remove wool, place into net bags, spin dry, and repeat. It's the repeat part thats not fun. In fact, it stinks. The process tends to make the whole house smell like, well, a dirty wet sheep. (Duh.) Today I was successful in masking the odor with that of a pork roast and onion I put in the oven for supper.
I just filled the tub for the 3rd and hopefully final soap. Later I'll rinse and take it out to the shop to the drying racks. (Thank you again, Mennards, for the bonus screens we got from the screwed up window order.) And then, maybe tomorrow, some of it will be black. I love making the proclamation "Not today - I'm dyeing in the kitchen." Although it's more effective said than written. There is a family story involved, but i'll save that for another day.
I've been dyeing for a long time, yet I continue to be amazed that black should be one of the hardest colors to achieve. One would think that black, the color you think that would 'cover' just about anything, should be easy. But it's not. I've learned that black has no identity of its own. Rather, it is a combined effort of all the colors that produces what we perceive. Or rather, what we don't see. For it is within the property of absorbing all light that we see something as black. so all the colors must be present, and absorbing light. With wool and dye, that doesnt always happen. At least evenly. My last attempt at resulted in a dark but mysterious unidentifiable blend of color ranging from vaguely brown greenish purple. Which actually wasn't so bad when salvaged by carding it all together. But it wasn't really black. There is always a lesson in dyeing. Stuff about showing your true colors. True colors. And black is no different.
The sun - YES we have sun today! - is low enough it is reflecting on the computer screen, making it a little hard to see. And i have things to do yet, so I guess its time for this to end. A post tomorrow maybe? I'll let you know how the black goes.

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