Friday, October 14, 2011

Dyeing Trees and the Bunny Meerkat Phenomenon

Bear in Meerkat pose

It is a well known fact that rabbits stand on their back feet to have a better view of what is going on, similar to the meerkats. Meerkats however keep it up , pardon the pun, a whole lot longer than bunnies though. They can stand still in that famous Meerkat pose as I call it for a very long time. It’s a hilarious pose and always puts a big smile on my face. The surprise bunnies have a meerkat gene in them I'm sure: especially Bear is a super Meerkat poser: he stands on his hind paws and surveys the surroundings all the time. Not that he is alarmed or stressed, he just likes having a tall look around I guess. His sisters are copying that pose too but do not seem to keep it up for as long as he does. It’s all in the practice ofcourse and Bear has been know to stand up so straight, leaning slightly backwards that gravity takes its toll and he topples backwards. Those are the times I wish my camera could be on stand by and record at an instant: it is just too funny.
The surprise babies are all doing great and I can proudly say that Tawnee is a wonderful mum. We have two girls and a boy in the litter. Bear , as you all know already. Buttercup, so named because of her gorgeous darkish gold coat , by one of the Bunny Spin in visitors last month inspired by the Princess Bride movie. We are still looking for a suitable name for the biggest golden fawn girl of the surprise bunnies though. She is the most quiet and low key one of the litter and that makes it hard to think of an appropriate name. The thing she is very good at though is to all of a sudden just roll over on her side and sleep in an instant. If you have an idea of a fun, appropriate name for this gorgeous bunny message me here or on Ravelry or email me. The Winner of the naming competition will win a nice IxCHeL Prize pack.

The Bunny soon to be named……

Here are some photos of the bunnies in their Meerkat poses :

Buttercup in Meerkat pose , showing off some gorgeous belly fluff

another meerkat pose by Bear (see how much lighter his coat is becoming?)
and normal cute cabbage devouring pose:

I have been busy this week dyeing the fibre and sock yarn clubs and all the prep work for the funky bunny batt clubs as well. The fibre and sock clubs have all been posted this morning and the batt club is going to be finished in the course of today for shipping Monday. Then ofcourse I have to get the studio in tip top shape for this Saturdays Bunny Spin in ! All the fibres and yarns will be displayed and cakes baked. This weekend is a particularly busy one because on the Sunday I will be going to the Spin in happening of the Gippsland Fibre Groupies : I am so looking forward to it ! I am taking the super foldable Schacht Sidekick sheel with me as well and heaps of spindles of Whorled Domination so everybody can have a play on them as well and I will be bringing heaps and heaps of new hand dyed fibres and yarns, including some mink and new angora yarns. It’s going to be great fun !

Apart from all of the above, I couldn’t help myself and had to try something new: first of all the dyeing of pure Tencel tops.

Now Tencel is a plant fibre and made from wood pulp. It is extremely soft, resembles silk in its shine and you would have no idea that you are actually spinning a tree. Tencel® is the registered trade name for Lyocell, which is a biodegradable fabric made from wood pulp cellulose. The manufacturer of Tencel® claims the fabric to be environmentally friendly and a good choice for people with sensitive skin. While Tencel® is made from wood fibers and is biodegradable, it is difficult to dye the fibres. At least that is what is told. True, it is easier to dye Protein or animal fibres and you cannot dye plant fibres like Tencel, cotton or bamboo with landscape dyes for example. The pigments also have a harder time to totally exhaust into the plant fibre cells so you will always have run off and that means rinsing and washing and rinsing again.

How to dye Tencel
First of all make sure that you soak the tencel fabric or tops in a solution of luke warm water where you have dissolved 2 cups of soda ash in 5 liters of water. This solution is necessary to get the fibres in the right Ph value so that the pigments can stick. It’s the mordanting fase you might say. I leave the tencel to soak over night in this solution. Always wear gloves and protective clothing as you would do when dyeing anything anyway. Always take care not to splash anything around and be careful. Dyeing is like working in a chemistry lab, so take care.
After the soak, squeeze out excess liquid. You can keep the soda ash/water solution for a bit an dmordant more fibres or yarns if you want. The longer you keep it, the less potent it becomes though.
Lay out your tencel yarn/tops on a gladwrap on a bench and then start painting or adding the pigments. The dyes I use for Tencel (or cotton for that matter) are so called Procion MX dyes. You will only need a tiny amount of dry pigment. Dissolve the pigment in luke warm water, sprinkle it over the segment you want in that particular colour and then sprinkle a teaspoon of salt and soda ash over the top. Wrap it all up and steam it for about 30minutes. Leave the top to cool off naturally and preferably as long as possible.
Akl the pigments won’t exhaust in the fibre. About 10% of the pigments wont stick to tencel, but the longer and the more patient you are, the deeper the shades will be and the less run off you will get.
Wash the tops/yarn/fabric in dishwashing liquid, rinse in clear water and then hang to dry.
The result can be spectacular ! Especially when you start experimenting with colour blending. I only have 4 Procion MX colours : black, turquoise, yellow and red and with some very inventing mixing and blending you can get an amazing array of colours. I love it because it reminds me of my days mixing oilpaints and pigments. It takes a long time to get it right and it is very timeconsuming but it is well worth it. See it as an adventure in colour!
As with all dyeing, you do not need many colours to create a wonderful world of different dyed fibres, just your imagination.

On the subject of trees: I have found some wonderful Bark from a Paperbark tree that is just magical and soft! It consists of different super fine layers of cellulose fibres that are almost ready to spin as they are! So I brought a whole bunch of them into the laundry to prep them a bit and then later separate all the layers. A kind of ran out of time so I left the whole lot in the laundry and wento to make dinner for the hungry masses. Later that evening it was all bout packing the clubs so the paperbark spinning just had to wait. Very late at night I wandered towards the laundry on my way to the bathroom and out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow….not right I thought, so I looked again and yes, there it was the shadow was actually a humungous SPIDER! HUGE! A huntsman spider! I hate spiders..well actually I am absolutely terrified of spiders. So much so, that I did not return to the hallway but sped out of the laudry outside and did a run around to get into the house bypassing the spider all together to wake up Paul so he could physically remove the Huntsman. I know its stupid to be so afraid of a spider that isn’t even poisenous, but I guess Im just very wary of all things with 8 legs and 8 sets of eyes. I ofcourse did not tell Paul my hunch that the Huntsman probably came from my Paperbark stash in the laundry….Im just happy that it did not pop its head and legs up while I had the paperbark layers on my lap while spinning ! That would have totally freaked me out! Lol

the wafer thin soft layers of the paperbark…so spinnable (without the spider!)

Anyway this weeks fibre and yarn update is here: some Tencel tops, Camelbunny silk tops and silk/merino sock weight yarn ! Get ready to Stalk and Snaffle !

How To Order:
You can email me on ixchel at rabbit dot com dot au or message me on facebook or ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny. I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods. Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.

Thank you so much for your help and support !

Camelbunny silk Tops
(70% Baby Camel, 10% Angora, 20% Mulberry Silk) 50g /AU$19

Rolling in Clouds

Sparks fly


the whole Love

Merino/Silk Sock weight yarn
(Merino 50%, silk 50%) +/-100g /AU$26 +/-425 meters per 100grams!

Purple Haze -sold-

Black Purl




Kangaroo Paw


Tencel Tops Hand dyed or natural 100grams $22
Super lush to spin with exquisite lustre and shine
Some main characteristics of lyocell or Tencel fibres are that they are soft, absorbent, very strong when wet or dry, and resistant to wrinkles; lyocell fabric can be machine- or hand-washed or drycleaned and it drapes well.

Soft Touch -sold-

Arctic Lights

Steampunk Blues


Alien Invasion

Dates to Remember:
Bunny Spin in at the Ixchel Fibre Farm (11am-5pm)

There will be BUNNY SPIN INS again in October !! Yeah!
Saturday October 15th
Thursday October 27th
Bring a plate to share your wheel or spindle, knitting or crochet, yourself and a smile and have a fun day out amongst bunnies and friends ! Please contact me to secure a spot ! Bunny food like cabbage, bok choi or broccoli is always welcome: the bunnies will cuddle you more for it ;D

Gippsland spinners Group Visit Sunday October 16th
I will bring heaps of new yarns and fibres ! Don’t miss out! Contact the Gippsland Group on RAVelry for more info. I will add more info closer to the date as well.

Little Yarra Steiner School Fair & Open Day
Sunday, October 23rd
A very special family fun day : I will be there with heaps of handspun and hand dyed yarns, art yarns, tops, soaps and tea ! no to be missed !

Contact me on Ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny, message me on facebook there or email me on


1 comment:

Evil McWeevil said...

Omg Charly, your babies are all so darn cutes! I want one! lol. Gorgeous fibres and yarns again this week you evil enabler you. I really need it to rain money so I can keep up. I want something from your updates every week...heck, I want it all. lol.