Tennessee weather is a puzzle all year long, and especially so at the threshold of a season change. Bright and clear, lonesome and dreary, frighteningly consistent in its inconsistencies….the only thing you can really know is that you just can’t really know. This week it’s been warmer than usual, but storms are predicted to blow through here tomorrow and chill the air once again. I honestly adore our funny weather patterns…I just like weather in general. I like what it stirs up in people.
So, yeah, the Lula Hoop! A big, wooly, egg-yolk yellow cowl that glows phosphorescent in the late winter gloom. I partnered with Wool and the Gang on this project: they sent me two balls of their cozy big Crazy Sexy Wool in ivory white and the size 19(!) rosewood needles that round out the kit.
Turmeric is one of the simplest natural dyes you can work with…it doesn’t require a mordant to bind the color to the wool, and it’s totally food safe so no separate equipment is needed. For this project you need the Lula Hoop kit in ivory white, one cup of ground turmeric, a large bowl, a small pitcher, an electric burner or stovetop, a stockpot, a colander, plastic wrap, and string.
The first step is to unwind the balls of yarn and re-wind them into hanks. There are specialized tools for this, but you can do it on the back of a chair. Once the yarn is wound into a big loop, tie it off in a couple of places with string so it doesn’t tangle. Set the yarn in a large bowl, and mix up the turmeric dye. I started with 1/4 cup of turmeric in 2 cups of warm water.
While an excellent dye job can be achieved by simmering the yarn in a pot with the turmeric, I prefer a gentler method: pouring the solution over the yarn and steaming. This keeps the wool from felting in the boiling water, and also allows for those lovely variegations in hue throughout the skein. If you want a completely solid yarn, don’t use this method! :)
The turmeric solution is poured over the yarn in the bowl…I let it sit for a moment before gently turning the yarn around so it soaks up as much dye as possible. You can add more! There are really no rules at this point. Once both hanks are saturated, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and set them in a colander over a pot of boiling water. Cover with a lid and allow the yarn to steam for 30 minutes, adding more water to the pot as necessary. This sets the color. Once it’s finished, allow the yarn to cool completely in the plastic wrap before removing it. Then rinse it carefully and thoroughly in lukewarm water (wool is terribly sensitive to abrupt temperature changes, and will felt up if the rinse water is too hot or cold). When the water runs clear, you can hang it up to dry. Then just wind each hank back up into a ball and knit away!
All photos and words by the awesome Rebekka Seale. Check her out on Camellia Fiber Company
(Camellia Fiber Company is a collection of very fine things, all handmade by Rebekka in her studio in Nashville, Tennessee. (Specialising in hand-spun yarn and sewn goods.)