Friday, February 18, 2011

Lord of the Rings and the Wonder of Walnut

LOTR Rohan art yarn close up

There is a lot of excitement here at the Ixchel Fibre farm, the bunnies are almost all clipped (except the lucky few to be on display this Saturday for the bunny spin in), there are heaps of new blends and colours and fibres and Yarn! I am always looking to incorporate something quirky or funny or amazing looking into my art yarns and this time I think I have hit the jack pot… Paul was cleaning out our spare bedroom to be turned into a music room/study/office and found my treasured box of Lord of the Rings miniatures and figurines. Now, I never was a gamer or playing warlord or any of those things, but years ago I just could not resist buying the Lord of the Rings collectors miniatures and magazines they came with. Now I know what I can do with them: I am painting them and then spinning them into a fantastic epic yarn. It takes time, but I am so happy with the result! You can even imagine a story with the yarn Tolkien style ;-) And then , as if that is not enough, there is the birth of a new hand dyed blend of mulberry peace silk and angorino! These tops come in 4 colourways and are the most amazing thing to spin. Last but not least this week will feature some new Hand dyed Camelbunny silk tops!!!!

Excitement here is also going on in the local cockatoo population because of the fruits of our magnificent walnut tree that is in full bloom and has the most amazing green walnuts on display. The wild birds love them , we love them too, however, chances that we will get a big harvest of RIPE walnuts is extremely slim. The birds attack the fruits with a vigour I can only describe as….Netting is impossible because of the size of the trtee and its position (next to the house). Early in the morning and at dusk we hear the big white sulphur crested cockatoos fly over, screaming “hey guys, over here! Over here!”and then the sound of walnut bombs dropping on the roof..bang! bang! Bang! I am picking up the pieces of the green hulls and left over nuts and bark with a smile on my face. Why? Well because the walnut is a wonderful amazing dye ! The walnut or Juglans nigra, makes the most amazing blacks, browns and even warm yellows. Historically it’s the husk that has been used to produce a good brown and black. It was used by the way to dye the uniforms of the Confederate forces in the American civil war; the soldiers were nicknamed “butternuts”due to their deep yellow uniforms! It’s also used as hairdye.
Ripe walnuts ofcourse are eaten and unripe green walnuts are pickled. Walnut oil is extracted for culinary purposes and the juice is supposed to keep bugs away.
The walnut tree grows up to be a about 15meters. Not a small tree! It is wind pollinated and self fertile. Walnut is a substantive dye: it means it doesn’t require a mordant, but if they are used, it will produce a wide variety of colours. Leaves can be used as well and give a wonderful yellow. The leaves should be torn apart and soaked for a day at least before use. Flesh of the fruit should be covered with water and fermented and the dye bath kept at appr 80C (175F) for at least one hour which gives a grey green.
You can soak the green husks overnight ( I prefer to soak them for longer to get deeper shades) and that will produce a deep dark brown and even black.
When you use the bark, chop it up and pour hot water over it, soaking it for at least a week if not more. Heat the dye bath up to at least 60C(140F) and keep it at that temp for an hour or more and then let cool, this will give yo ua variety of browns. I always add a bit of vinegar to the dye bath not only to assist in exhausting the pigments into the fibre but also to resist molds from popping their heads up , especially when you have to soak and ferment the husks and wood for a long period of time. You don’t want mushrooms growing out of your…because that will give you a whole different colour range..but I digress..:)
The dye from the walnut stains anything it comes in contact with so be careful and wear gloves and old clothes when working with it. You can use the green hulls of the walnut but I dry them out because they seem to give me a better deeper stronger colour. You will have to store the green hulls in the dark (I use onion bags and put them in the cellar).

Walnut drawing

Walnut dye samples

Lord of the Rings Art Yarn !!!

I think this yarn will even be loved by unsuspecting 13year old gamers who never even looked at a yarn
My first Lord of the rings Art Yarn features the Warriors of Rohan, battling for the safety of Middle Earth against the terror of the orcs and Mordor ! You can see them standing on the snow covered ground at dawn, a winter sun shining on the snowscaped land that glitters and shines ith the first light in majestic ice blues, just covering the soft moss beneath now and then peeping out to witness the battle. Specks of spring flowers opening up with yellows and pinks to try and overshadow the red of the blood that was spilt in the battle.

+/- 180 meters of handspun yarn, appr 8ply, weighing 217 !!! grams, with 10 silver coloured Warriors of Rohan miniatures spun into the yarn and safely attached to show off their skills in the knitted ultimate Lord of the Rings Fibre art work.

Unique yarn with collector edition Lord of the Rings miniatures (Warriors of Rohan)
Ingredients of the yarn: angora bunny, super fine merino, cashmere, Angelina, glitz, silk, tencel, soy silk, alpaca, yak and quiviut, 10 handpainted silver coloured Rohan warriors miniatures.

Rohan warrior on the bobbin

Rohan warrior passing through the orifice….

Battle on the Niddy Noddy

Rohan Warriors in action

more photos of the LOTR Rohan Battle yarn on my flickr photostream at see the Art Yarns Set

Hand dyed Rainbow Silk Angorino (70% 19micron merino, 25% mulberry peace silk and 5% angora bunny)
100grams /AU$22
A luxurious blend in four colourways that spins like a dream. Predraft it fine to spin in colour separation, but predraft several colours together to get that funky bunny batt feel to make art yarns. Gorgeous to work with , spin or felt it for amazing effects!


Waterfall close up


Rivendell close up

Hot Chili

Hot Chili close up


Sunshine close up

Hand dyed Camel Bunny Silk (50% baby camel, 10%angora bunny, 40% Mulberry silk)
50+grams /AU$19

another signature Ixchelbunny hand dyed top you can spin or felt and feels like a heavenly cloud fit for the elves of Rivendell. Very fine, super soft with a fabulous shine.


Spinning Zombie (name inspiration came from Chanti J after telling her this was hand dyed with walnut and we got into a Zombie lingo/movie chat! )


Merri and Pippin

Treebeard (dyed with walnut, lichen, ferns, madder)

Dragon Fireworks

Hobbits (more walnut dyeing!)

Ixchel Teas

Buddhas tears tea
Handrolled green jasmine pearl tea
50grams, AU$15
add 3 or 4 pearls into hot water, watch the pearls unfold and drink pure or with a dash of honey for an amazing tea!

I also have

Flat leaved jasmine tea 50 grams AU$9

And a

Red Clover tea , a wonderful tonic and cleanser. 50grams, AU$10

Great against acne, digestive disorders, eczema, endometrioses, fibroids, fibromyalgia,hormone imbalances, pms,vascular disorders and menopausal problems. Red clover is a legume rich in isoflavonoid phytoestrogens including: genistein, daidzein, formononetin and biochanin-A, compounds that are now recognized for supporting critical hormone levels within the body in both men and women, without having any negative side effects. Controlled clinical trials show that phytoestrogens from red clover help to maintain proper bone density in menopausal women, as well as relieving hot flushes and night sweats. Red clover has been a valued medicine since ancient times and was particularly valued for treating respiratory problems, colds, flues and infections in the 19th century. Red clover is recognized as a detoxification herb or "blood cleanser". The tea, like that of licorice root, is also said to be effective for treating gastrointestinal problems and can be used externally as a hydrocortisone cream replacement for alleviating skin inflammations and psoriasis. Historically, the blossom tea was also used as an antispasmodic and mild sedative. Research is showing that phytoestrogens, including and especially those from red clover, are beneficial for preventing and treating many of the major degenerative diseases plaguing our society today. Phytoestrogens support good health in many ways such as: 1) they bind at estrogen receptors and prevent the body from over-producing estradiol; 2) they dilute xenoestrogen-type toxins by binding at receptor sites and function as anti-estrogens; 3) they boost progesterone expression and help to normalize the body's important estrogen to progesterone ratio; 4) they reduce cholesterol and support the liver in its critical role of detoxifying the blood and converting excess estradiol into the more benign form of estriol; 6) they are powerful antioxidants; 7) they prevent the formation of new blood vessels that feed abnormal cells; 8) they inhibit abnormal cell growth, and 9) they boost several beneficial enzymes within the body that prevent DNA adducts and reduce cellular damage and aging. Red clover can be taken as a tea with the recommended dosage of one to three cups per day, using one teaspoonful of dried herb and blossom per cup of boiling water. A typical dosage of red clover extract provides 40 to 160 mg of isoflavones daily.
red clover tea

Email me on if you want to adopt any of these babies or message me on Ravelry or facebook where I am Ixchelbunny !

Rabbit On!

Dates to Remember:

Bunny Spin in at the Ixchel Fibre Farm (from 11am to 5pm, every third saturday and every fourth thursday of the month -except July!)

Tomorrow ! Saturday February 19th
Thursday February 24th

Bring your wheel, spindle, knitting, crocheting and a plate to share with everybody. There is cake and coffee and tea and a lovely bunny to cuddle and lots of fibres and yarn!) very important ! : Please, please let me now beforehand by email or message that you would like to come and visit so I can prepare the infrastructure and cake ofcourse !

Contact me on Ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny, message me on facebook there or email me on
Thanks heaps for your support !


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