Friday, August 23, 2013

Once in a blue moon

Blue moon bunny

This week there was a blue moon in the doesn’t happen that often : that’s where the whole “Once in a blue moon “ phrase comes from ;-) A blue moon is an extra full moon that appears in a subdivision of a year, either the third of four full moons in a season or, recently, a second full moon in a month of the common calendar. Metaphorically, a "blue moon" is a rare event and happens every two to three years. The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a literal "blue moon" (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions; e.g., when volcanic eruptions or exceptionally large fires leave particles in the atmosphere.

All in all I didn’t really want to talk about blue moons today, that just came up…lol..but I wanted to talk about purple, its meaning and how to get shades of purple in your dyeing.

Purple is a pigment secreted by marine gastropod molluscs (species names are murex and purpure). According to legend, the dog belonging to Melkart, the phoenician god of dyers, was responsible for discovering purple. In modern day Lebanon and Syria there were traces of use of Murex found in archeological sites dating back to 1500BC: whole hills of crushed seashells have been found right next to the dyeworks in these communities. The farming of Murex was difficult: first they had to find the molluscs in the waters of the Mediterranean , then break open the shells. The molluscs were then left to soak for some time in big basins and then they had to remove the liquid from a very tiny gland. Exposed to the sunlight the juice turns from white to a yellowish green, then to green, then to violet and then finally a deeper and deeper red. You had to control the duration of exposure of the liquid to sunlight very very precisely.. The dyed silk, wool and fabrics were very very highly priced. That’s why they call purple a royal colour, reserved for kings, noblemen, priestst and magistrates. It represented prestige. In ancient Rome the colour purple reached the height of popularity. Under the Roam republic, the toga, a mark of citizenship, was edged with a purple band. The robes by triumphant soldiers were completely purple and bordered with gold and the generals at the head of the armies wore a paludamentum , a purple cloak. Then roman emperors made the olour exclusively their own. Purple became the symbol of political power. Caligula haad the King of Mauritius killed because he wore purple and Nero, another example of a “nice” emperor…, condemned anyone wearing purple to death. In the 15th century Pope Paul II decreed that Cardinals could wear purple but it was cochineal insects that provided the violet/purple, not the molluscs. How they exactly got those ancient purples from the murex remains a mystery: the recipes were lost by the ninth century and it wasn’t until the very beginning of the 20th century that the chemical structure of purple and the methods of dyeing were discovered. If you thought purple was valued in Europe alone, you are mistaken.. At the other end of the world and totally isolated from one another, in Mayan and Aztec society in Latin America, purple was also highly valued and…yes…they also extracted the juice to make purple from similar molluscs, so called purpure patula mollusc. And, it was also a very royal colour. Ofcourse , to get purple I don’t go fishing for particular molluscs…no what you can do to get a very nice royal purple is use a plant! The Madder plant or Rubia tinctorum. The Madder is a leafy , sprawling plant thatis actually considered a weed here in Victoria …Its dye material comes from the root not the leaves. You chop up the root and dry it into a powder. You can only get clear, bright colours with a heavily concentrated dye bath. You will also get much deeper colours from roots that are 5 years or older ! There are tricks to get the right colour: if you use a hot water dye bath you have to keep the temperature below 60degrees Celsius or the colour will become browner ! If you use alum you will get a red, tin will give you an orange and chrome will give you a violet. Heres a recipe which I use to get those nice deep velvet purples you see in this weeks offerings : 100g of protein fibres 20g madder powder concentrate 4 litres of water mordant used: iron and cream of tartar Best to use a cool water dyeing method and simmer on low for 1-2 hours until the dye is a deep mahogany hue. Leave the dyebath to cool until the fibres are the depth of red or purple you want. Rinse the dyed fibres in warm water until clear.
Madder plant

test skeins dyed with madder

Next week I will delve into some other dyeing magic and tell you another secret ! shhhhhhhhhhh ;-)

Welcome to the magical world of natural dyeing !

Dates to Remember:

The black and coloured Sheep breeders Associations of Victoria 2013

Sunday 29th-September 2013 from 9.30am to 3 pm
I will be there with heaps of new fluffy stuff !!
Cranbourne Public Hall (near KFC….),
Join me in all the fun ! There will be a huge amount of new blends and fibres to choose from. Here is the flyer with the information:

And now: drumroll!!!!
Here is the special madder fibre update of this week ! Enjoy!

Hand dyed IxCHeL Madder Bunny Tops
100+grams     Prices are listed below each different type of madder blend
Navajo Churro Bunny tops 100grams $20 (a blend of Navajo churro and 5% of angora bunny)

Cashmere fling tops (bamboo, cashmere, glitz, nylon) 100g $22

Lush Bunny tops (18.5micron merino, angora, tencel, cashmere) 100g $24

Angorino tops 17micron merino with angora bunny 100g $22

Hand dyed IxCHeL Hemp Tops
100+grams     AU$18


Through the Stones

Undyed pure hemp tops

Hemp Fibre
50+grams     AU$5

pure Hemp fibre

IxCHeL embroidered Aprons

A one size fits all 100% cotton apron, embroidered here at the farm! In some funny bunny designs. You can choose white, red or green embroidery on a red or black apron. The apron has two big pockets at the front as well. A great gift for any lover of bunnies, alice in wonderland, spinning or knitting !
Rabbit on ! aprons AU$29.95
Alice in Wonderland themed aprons with an intricate embroidery design $39.95
Rabbit on! Apron
We are all mad here

if you don’t know where you are going…
follow the white rabbit…


Happy bunny patchwork kits 

three gorgeous fabrics, a bunny button and pattern
only AU$9
Happy bunny kit

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 !


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