Sunday, March 18, 2007

Linen Sock, 18th Century Touque Pattern, and Madder Red

We had a new visitor to our bird feeder. He's the middle one in the photo. We had to get out the bird book to find out what it was - a fox sparrow. It is bigger than a house sparrow with a lovely dark brown color, blue feathers on the head, and a lovely stripe pattern on the chest. I had never heard of one or seen one in my entire life. My bird feeder this year has certainly brought some new visitors.

I finished the 18th century toque pattern last week and knit up a sample in a dark red wool. My intention is to take this pattern, knit it up in hand-dye madder red, add in "Liberty or Death" in natural wool, and sell a couple. Mike loves his and he says he gets comments about it all the time.

So, now that I had the pattern, I just had to dye up some madder red wool. I started on Thursday night with a Tin and Cream of Tarter mordant bath for one pound of wool yarn. I also ground up the madder root (from Pakistan that I purchased from Aurora Silk) in the blender, added water, brought it up to about 180 degrees and then turned it off for the night. Friday evening I blended the madder again in the blender then put it in a dye bag made out of linen (I make my own by making a large tube, sewing up the sides with a small machine stitch, and then tying off the top). The wool then went in Friday night around 160 degrees for 90 minutes. I then let the yarn soak in the dye bath until Sunday afternoon. It is a beautiful red - not too orangey. But I am still partial to the cochineal red. But, the colonies just wouldn't have had a large access to cochineal and their reds would have been closer to Turkey Red or Madder Red, both of which come from Madder Root.

Saturday, I knit up a linen sock with 7/5 natural linen I purchased from R&M Yarns. The yarn smelled just like a fresh hay bale and brought back memories of haying in the summer in Northeast Ohio. Anyway, back to the yarn and the sock. I am finding linen hard to knit on the machine mainly because it is hard to weigh down enough for the needles to pass easily up and down. I believe next time that I will be trying the 7/2 linen thinking that it will be easier to weigh down. I ended up moving the stitch size up to 6 which made the sock much bigger than I wanted. But I am going to use this knitted sock to do some experiments. I have already washed it in the machine in hot water and it has shrunken and turned a lovely gray color. I am letting it dry on the sock stretcher and we will have to see if it will fit me after it is completely dry.

I also finished up a dye display that I had been working on to use at our 1st Virginia Regiment functions with the public. I believe that I will be able to open this up and lay out for the public to look and touch.

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