Dyed with lichen from County Fermanagh, these bundles of 100gram and smaller 'taster' bundles of 20g, have been dyed using the traditional dye-vat method. For past centuries that has meant layering the lichen and wool in a large cast iron pot that would hang over the peat fire, and leaving it to gently bubble all day, and sit all night. Sometimes that process was repeated for 3 days and nights. Recipes differ. Even though we use more modern heating methods now, the process remains the same. I will shortly have a tutorial video out on this process.
This latest batch of fibre was dyed using the 3 day vat method. I'm very pleased with the results. It has come out a gorgeous deep toffee mottled colour.
I came across a wind fallen tree that had just the type of lichen on it I was after, but the price I paid for it was having to sit for five hours after the dye process, picking out the little bits from the wool. I've taken some close up shots so you can see that there are still tiny specks here and there, of dried lichen. I spun some of this up this week, and it wasn't a problem, as it fell out as I spun. However, I feel I have to mention this as you may find little bits, although I think I got almost all of it!!! Phew..
This is 'Crottle' lichen, which I gathered in County Fermanagh, which is a fairly slow process. I gather most of my lichen from wind fallen fire wood. This type of lichen only grows in areas of high rainfall, and where there is very little polution in the air. So, that means off-road areas. That means a hike, and getting wet and muddy and usually cold as I gather it in winter.
However, it was worth it, because the beautiful sand/yellow/ochre/golds/bronzes, that I got are fantastic soft colours that I think are unobtainable with chemical dyes. Also, Crottle imparts a fresh heathery scent to the wool that bonds to it, and never washes out, so that is the way you can tell if you have the real thing. (and by the way, that is how you can tell if you have some genuine Harris tweed because Crottle was used in the Scottish Islands as well).
When we stop and think about the 'carbon footprint' of what we do, I have to admit that the merino was not grown in Northern Ireland. However, the carbon footprint for my lichen dyeing is nil. I walked from my house and gathered my lichen. There's nothing else in this dyed. It couldn't be more sustainable, and the lichen came from wood that was destined for the fire.
Merino is great soft wool for baby-wear, next to skins wear, and also can be used for felting project. Wash your finished project carefully by hand and dry it flat. If you spin this fine, you could get a whole shawl from one braid.
AS ALWAYS I DO NOT AIM TO MAKE MONEY ON POSTAGE AND WILL REFUND ANY OVERPAYMENT GREATER THAN £1 UPON DISPATCH. POSTAGE COSTS OUTSIDE UK ARE CALCULATED TO COVER TRACKING.
From my smoke free, pet free workshop.
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