11. Local dyestuff: "skjegglav"

I want to explore locally sourced dyestuffs that my persona might have had available to her.  First sample is a tree lichen called “skjegglav” in Norwegian.  I haven’t been able to make a definitive identification of the Latin name at this point as there are several different possible candidates, but a picture is worth a thousand words:

 Every dyestuff can produce a range of colors depending on amount of dyestuff, temperature, mordents, time, etc., so I will be revisiting the different dyes as they are available through the seasons.  It is always important to respect our natural resources and work to minimize the impact of harvesting raw materials.  That counts doubly here in the North as our lower temperatures also result in slow growth of plants and lichen, leaving ‘scars’ that take years to recover. 


58g ‘skjegglav’ and 50g Rauma prydvev 2 ply yarn (16% alum pre-mordant) were placed in cool water.  The mixture was brought up to ca.  65C and allowed to steep for a couple of hours.  The yarn was then left in the dye bath to cool over night.  I chose to leave the lichen loose in the dye bath and it certainly comingled with the yarn!

 I have been doing a lot of philosophizing about technique; the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of what we do are based on what we’ve been taught, what we’ve read and little tricks we’ve discovered along the way.  We’ll never know definitively, but I would like to get as close to realistic technique for Þora as I can.  For example, straining a dye bath removes vegetable matter, removing the need to pick it out afterwards.  But how many large pots/containers would have been available for transferring the liquid during the straining process?  What would she have used as a strainer?  Would she have used pots dedicated to dyeing and, if so, what kind of investment did this represent?

It’s good to be playing with color again!


(Originally posted to LiveJournal: October 05, 2013)