Friday, 18 September 2009

Blackberry Way.....

We have been having very dull days in this part of the UK while other areas have been bathed in sunshine but today the sun finally broke through so DH and I went for a walk along the local canal. DH had heard that there were several families of swans on the canal so that was our quest for the afternoon. Fortunately, we hadn't been walking all that long before we came on the young family quietly feeding.

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This pair had 4 cygnets and were only mildly interested in us, probably because we hadn't taken any food for them. It was a lovely warm, idyllic afternoon and while DH was busy framing and focussing his camera on the swans I clambered about in the hedgerow gathering these:

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Fortunately I had taken a carrier bag along for the purpose as I had been inspired by Carolyn's recent dyeing experiments with blackberries. I managed to pick a couple of pounds of blackberries and while I was quietly gathering I was treated to a close encounter:

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There were lots of dragonflies all along the canal this afternoon. I think they are absolutley beautiful creatures. Their wings make an amazing sound when they whirr past.

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Not a bad collection of berries!

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Once I got home I put the blackberries onto simmer for about 20 mins and then excitedly dropped in a selection of fabrics, lace and threads. That was when I got a big shock! As I lowered the fabric into the solution it turned first green and then a bluey grey! Not what I was expecting at all.

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This is the fabric steeping in the liquid once it had been strained. As you can see it bears no resemblence to Carolyn's beautiful pinks and reds. I think I know what I've done. I had the great(?) idea of wetting the fabric with a soda solution before putting it in the pan. I don't think the blackberries or the aluminium saucepan liked the soda. Anyway, we shall see! I was disappointed to start with but there is time for the dye to work some more yet and if I do end up with shades of grey it will still be useful and maybe I could overdye it. Watch this space!

12 comments:

maggi said...

Just think what a lovely blackberry and apple pie you could have made with them! Good luck with the next experiment.

sandra wyman said...

Like Maggi, my immediate thought was ooh lovely blackberry and apple pie. And best not to get too close to those swans - they can be dangerous. Great to look at though.

Heather said...

Swans are so beautiful and majestic and a walk along a canal path is always lovely. The dragonfly is gorgeous - we had one teasing me in the garden last week, it had a green body and wouldn't keep still long enough for me to get a photo. Your blackberry dyeing reminds me of my efforts - I got the lovely pinks and mauves and decided to try to intensify the colours by simmering a little longer. Sadly that is not a good idea with blackberries and I ended up with soft greyish tones instead. I now eat all the blackberries I pick, or put them in the freezer!

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

It's so interesting to see how differently everyone's comes out. Cathy (Cullis) had much more blue tones than me. I didn't do anything at all to my fabrics before soaking in dye, including no mordant. The other thing I did differently was to strain off all the berries, let the dye cool slightly and then soaked the fabrics in an ice cream tub for three days. I got a range of purples, true purple, blue purple and pinky red purples

Isn't natural dyeing fascinating!

Can report the weather is still glorious here, with a slight nip in the air in the shade. Had a great night out watching NOT The Beatles again last night. Wonderful!

See you soon
xx

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

ps. Thank you for sharing the swans picture. What a delightful sight!
:o)

Julie said...

Heather, you may have hit on my problem there! I think maybe the balckberries were simmered too long. I will probably never know but I may be tempted to try again and not use a mordant.

My DH was thinking blackberry & apple pie too but I am not domesticated in the baking department!

Kiki Finlayson said...

I am thinking you might want an enamel or stainless steel pan, as aluminum reacts with some things.... I don't have much recent experience with natural dying, though I want to do more and I've read quite a bit. But when I was young and doing more I remember I was always told to use an enamel pan. Too bad they're not so available anymore!

The best approach: always be ready for surprises!

Julie said...

Thank you Kiki. I think you may well be right. I shall have to invest in some new pans for the kitchen and move my kitchen stainless steel pans to dyeing. I've washed the fabric out today and there are some lovely muted shades so not a total loss. :-)

Angela said...

Sonds like an interesting experiment. My kind of cooking.

sharon young said...

Wow! That was a bit of a shock on the dying experiment, but you never know the results maybe wonderful, I knew I should have picked some more yesterday. looking forward to seeing the results.

Robin Mac said...

Hmmm....loved this post, and after reading all the comments I think I will have a go with the frozen Fruits of the Forest pack which has been sitting in my freezer for far too long, so I will use that and soak for several days to let the colour (hopefully) show up. I also love your September journal quilt. Granite stitch takes quite a bit of practice to get the rhythm flowing properly - my arthritic hands end up with some spikey bits now, but other people can think that is what I meant to do!! Cheers, Robin

Julie said...

Thank you Robin :o) Have fun with the Fruits of the Forest. I have the same arthriticy hands these days so I shall blame my difficulties with granite stitch firmly on them!