Weekend with the Cochineals

I mentioned in my intro that I have “urges”… I am not sure that is a good word to use… I think a chain of serendipitous events that compels actions on my part… is a better way of explaining why I do what I have done.  Let me explain how my last weekend of madness began.  (I like to say it makes complete sense if you know the whole story… like the time I tried to take a tumor  out of my head with a Dremel… it sounds bad but makes sense if you hear the whole story…  I will save that for another post).  Back to the weekend…   this is how it all started.

While at work a colleague  mentioned that “natural red coloring” often called carmine (check your labels) is made from bugs (cochineal).  This statement (think of Cliff from cheers) beckoned a night of googling and youtubing.  Here is one of my favorite YouTube videos from that night  Amelia from Peru…  —  watch closely at 4:20… she crushes several bugs… adds lemon juice smears the bug guts on her lips and says “the single girl use as natural cosmetic for carnival” (no wonder they are single)—

SO… I decide to hunt cochineal… unfortunately I found it is too early (stay tuned… that hunting will happen).  Being a determined type… I would not let this stop me so I did the next best thing and bought them on the internet (you can get almost anything on the internet).  I then had to do what logically has to be done with cochineal (nope not on my lips nor in my food) dye something red.

In discussing my anxiously awaited bugs, I was asked what are you going to dye?  I offered the truth that I didn’t know… something cool maybe a shirt.  I  then mentioned that I had watched a Navajo lady dye wool red… after spinning it…. bingo it came  to me (you see… all of it makes sense now).  I went back on the internet and learned new words like top and roving (already washed and carded wool) then ordered some natural undyed roving.   I also purchased a drop whorl and a loom… (all of that will be discussed in future posts).  This is how it all began and the rest of this post will describe the process I used to dye wool this past weekend.

For those who flip to the end of the book to read what happens… I offer this… a before and after preview (we all suffer from attention deficit)

Before Dye:

Before

After Dye:

after

Now back to the post… read on for those who want to know how I did this (isn’t that color beautiful)

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