Yesterday I had my big trip over to my aunts woolcraft guild - over 4 1/2 total hours of travel, but totally worth it.
The theme of the day was dyeing with natural plant and foodstuffs, so I walked into the guild hall to the smell of simmering gum leaves and onion skins - lovely! One smell that I will never be rid of though was the rancid smell of cooking walnut husks - not very nice. It was really informative with many people willing to share their experience and knowledge, and also receptive to new ideas and techniques too!
So I wound off a few skeins for a bit of experimentation and this is what I ended up with. These miniskeins were dyed (from top to bottom) in gum leaves, red cabbage and walnut husks. The amazing thing about dyeing with gum leaves is that the same tree's leaves will yield different colours throughout not only different seasons, but throughout its lifecycle. The colours are longlasting with minimal fade and no mordant is required. Another really interesting thing I discovered is that contrary to what you would imagine, getting a green colour is really difficult. The closest we got to a green was dyeing with rhubarb leaves, but some of the more experienced members suggested that the colour would sun fade quickly.
I dyed 100grams of DK BFL in brown onions skins too, and got this gorgeous russet colour. I'm thinking this would make a beautiful hat with white fairaisle motifs, and maybe some of the stinky walnut brown could be worked in too.
I was very lucky too, to come home with a swag-load of books given to me by my aunt, including the fabulous "Wool Gathering" which was first published by the guild in 1974 and has since sold 18,000 copies, making their guild one of the most successful in Australia! I also bought home with me just a *small* loom. This is an 'inkle' loom. Predominantly used for narrow braids, belts and cords and fabulous as a first beginners loom. Weaving is amazing - I feel like I'm being led into a whole new world with it's own separate language. Wefts, warps, heddles and sheds - it's a fascinating art, and I'm looking forward to getting my *big* loom in a couple of months time.