Monday, September 23, 2013

An Indigo Morning

Last week I was privileged to accompany staff members and volunteers of the Charleston Museum to an Indigo class.  Actually, it was more like a slice of a PhD course in Indigo.  Father John, our gracious host, gourmet chef and knowledgeable instructor, has been studying and experimenting with Indigo for the past 8 years, and he's still learning and experimenting.  This was so encouraging to me, since it feels like the more I learn about this ancient dyestuff, the more I realize I don't know. 
His Indigo plants are so tall! That's Jan Hiester on the left and Susan on the right (Awesome Museum Volunteer and All Around Fun Person).  Father John is describing the types of Indigo historically grown in SC, plus how he has managed to have such thriving specimens.

These Indigo leaves have soaked overnight in water.  See how blue the water is now?  Once the Indigo water has been drained off, the leftover leaves (in back) can be used as a fertilizer/compost.

If these folks ever ask you to go to a class or lecture with them, do it. Charleston Museum people rock :) L to R: Neil Nohrden, Assistant Curator of History, Jan Hiester, Curator of Textiles, and Stephanie Thomas, Education Coordinator.

Once the leaves are removed, it is necessary to aerate the liquid.  Father John used a fish tank aerator.  The blue on the bubbles is what will eventually be the Indigo dye.

After aerating, it settles.  That blue sludge on the bottom? Yep, Indigo! Next step is drying, then crushing into a powder, then mixing in water and various chemicals to further reduce the Indigo so that it will dye cloth or yarn.

He dyed 10 yards of cotton for us--and made it look easy.  See how yellowy-green the fabric is inside the vat? Awesomeness in the making. Also note the fabric hanging on the walls, all perfectly Indigo dyed by our host.

Finished product, framed by the beautiful yard at Father John's place.

 These photos only give you glimpse into our morning--and if I hadn't lost the rest of them off my phone with the lastest iOS update (my fault--I should have backed them up sooner, but I didn't foresee issues and well, I'm grateful I had already emailed these to myself!), you would see so much more.  I took copious notes and have been telling everyone who will listen about how much I learned and what a lovely time it was.  Father John even served us a gourmet lunch, in the midst of teaching us so much about dyeing with Indigo!  It was an experience I'll never forget.

I'll be passing on more of what I learned, plus giving you a chance to do some dyeing yourself at my next Indigo Dyeing Workshop at the Charleston Museum,  Saturday, October 19, from 10am-12:30.  More details and registration info at their website.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Knitting, Blogs, and The Art of Getting Stuff Done

Random linen stitch
They say if you want to get something done, hand it off to someone who is already busy doing something.  Forward momentum is pretty powerful. Or as I like to say, "Mojo, man. Mojo."

There is a truth that a person will carve out time to do what he or she really wants to do (some exceptions apply, but not many) and I wonder if the joy of knitting (or writing, or crafting, etc) is what makes us fit more of it in around otherwise hectic lifestyles.  I also wonder how many of us would be on the street, up to no good, if we didn't have knitting in our lives, but I will NOT ask for a show of hands at this time...

Motivation is a valuable tool in life and when I see it in others, it also motivates me.  I met a Particularly Motivated Gal a couple of years ago at a knitting group and as I've gotten to know her I've been impressed (and occasionally intimidated, I admit it!) by her immense pools of inner mojo. And now?  Now I'm proud as punch because Victoria has rolled out a shiny new blog and it's lovely! Please check it out and follow her knitting adventures--you won't regret it!

Many more years ago, I met a Mom Who Liked to Write.  She was the first real live person I'd ever met who had her own honest-to-goodness blog.  When I shared with her my love of writing (and the fact that, at the time, it had been ages since I'd written anything at all), she encouraged me to start my own blog.  I did, and that blog was a wonderful thing (Yes, I do like my own writing!) and while it has been put on the back burner as I have honed my focus (and motivation) down to KNITTING (shocker!), it helped me get where I am now and that makes me grateful.  I'm grateful that I started the blog and I'm grateful to Shannon for giving me the little push I needed.  And now?  Now I'm proud as punch because Shannon has done gone and gotten herself published!  In a book!  I haven't read this yet, but having read much of her other writing over the years, I can guarantee it is good.  Go buy it!  Or you can just order it from Amazon without having to even leave your computer. Ask me how I know this :)

What about you? Do you have motivators in your life, sharing their Mojo with you and getting stuff done?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Actual Knitting Has, In Fact, Been Happening!

Aside from my Cold Mountain lace journey, my current knitting has revolved around some top-secret pattern designing.  It may seem to the casual onlooker as though I'm only knitting occasionally, or even, gasp!, sporadically.  Rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth. Between the swatching and the re-swatching and the adjusting and the swatching again and the finally knitting the thing, well, I've been doing a lot of knitting.

When completed patterns are ready, I promise you'll be the first to know!  In the meantime, here is a small sample of what's been on my needles here at KnitOasis HQ: