I’m about a month later than last time, but the leaves are still green, acorns have mostly fallen off or will in the strong wind which is now dominating our days.
Oak leaves are a bit pesky to harvest, they don’t let go if you rip at them, the tiny side twigs however are easily torn off. So you need to grab individual leaves and pull backwards to leave them undamaged, a test in patience. There are already buds at the base of each leaf, the tree surely doesn’t mind that I grab the old ones just weeks before they fall anyway.
One picking ends when I think I have enough to fill a pot and my arms are tired of being lifted, luckily that pretty much coincided. Roughly 700 g in the first batch, that’s a long way from 4:1 if each yarn group is 500 g (x3) – that should be 6 kilos of leaves!!!! Gag… What to do? Checking my bins to see if I have some dried. Nope.
Check old books – ratio is correct. Check newer books – Dean says 1:1 but her chart shows beige/tan. Historically inner bark was used, so I’m not sure why we’re even futzing with the leaves.
Next day I got bored after 5 minutes but persevered and filled my IKEA bag. 1200 g. And now there’s a hole in my biggest pot, which means I can’t use it unless I seal it and my “chemical metal” tube of whatnot is 30 years old (from when I sealed a water heater with the same problem). Closest gas station: 12 km and I have major cramps, guess how delightful a drive sounds right now LOL.
I reduced the volume of leaves a bit by cutting them up with an old bread cutter, rolling handfuls into a wad, then cutting slices. I need to bolt it down next time, it’s too lightweight for the job when you don’t have an extra hand.
Initial conclusion: Do not bother dyeing with leaves after August. This is the second disappointing result this year and instead of wasting my usual 25 g we’ve gone all in with huge bundles. All I got was TAN. (sorry no photo)
But then I had a brilliant idea: Check my yarn sample book! And guess what, my alum mordanted samples are TAN. The one that is red in tone was the copper mordanted skein. And the darker, chocolaty tones were alum mordanted, with iron AND oak galls in the bath. Lesson: don’t rely on photos of your yarn, taken in whatever available sunlight, when you plan new dye jobs. And especially don’t rely on your memory either.
Anyway, while I was ok with the greenish tone on the grey skeins, I immediately thought I had nothing to lose by adding some copper to my oak bath and put the white/tan yarn in. And then for good measure when that just darkened the tan a bit, some iron.
So now I can weave army blankets! I know my safer bet would have been walnut husks, but I haven’t found a source, I need at least a kilo, and I’m on a shopping ban until either G finds a job or I myself think of someting I can sell – I’m not very good at guessing what the people like/want.
Let me tell you a little secret: Sometimes I’m sorely tempted to just make up acid dye recipes for all the plant dye shades and be done with it! Saves mordanting, harvesting, storage space, no calendar limits… And it frees up a week of painting and weaving time at least which I have now spent mostly in vain as you can see. Thank goodness I didn’t pick 6 kilos. I could certainly try to concoct some mixture of boiled madder with walnut husks on copper mordanted yarn and see if I got the shade in the eye of my mind, but really? Also artificial colours are possibly less toxic to me and the land than copper sulphate.
Next up: Madder (no, not me I hope)