Well, you guys are nothing if not a solid voting block! With one exception, you agreed that I should dye first, and then blend and spin for the best, deepest, most interesting results. The exception, however, had an excellent thought: "I think it's *always* better to wait for the people with talent to present me with a finished product to admire."
Thank you for your opinions! I've got a half of a pound of white Shetland mordanting (with alum) right now--I've got some madder at hand to dye with.
[Next day: Details--2 T madder powder for 1/2 pound white Shetland fleece mordanted with alum; heated to 160 degrees for 1 hour; cooled in pot. Meanwhile, set 1/2 pound light gray Shetland roving to soak in alum mordant at room temperature overnight. Removed madder batch; added 2 tsp osage orange extract to dye remaining in pot, and then added the gray along with the mordant water to simlutaneosly dye and mordant.]
Look what I found on my drive back to Seattle:
These were mixed in with wood chips, the remnants of some logging operation, at a rest stop in southern Oregon. We really shouldn't harvest living lichens, but these lichens were no longer on the trees. Karen Casselman has researched sustainable lichen use as well as methods for obtaining good color with less dyestuff, so I plan to read her book Craft of the Dyer: Colour from Plants and Lichens (you can read a bit of it here).
I was walking Shadow when I spotted the lichens, so I filled one of his poop bags. But there was more on the ground when I headed to the restrooms, so I filled my arms--then the rest area caretaker told me that even more had blown off the trees on the other side of the little park. Whee! A grocery bag full of fallen lichen! Something else for the Fair Isle from Scratch.
A Different Kind of Diet
I realized that I haven't been knitting very much recently. Part of it is the disruption of going to California and back, but part of it is that I've been spending way too much time on the computer. Don't get me wrong--I love the internet, but I want to use the computer as a tool, not reflexively log on and graze. So I've un-subbed from most of the chat lists and will be trying to check email and Bloglines only a few times a day. We'll see how it goes!
Bitter Experience File
When you are curled up in your favorite chair reading a book, do not decide to trim your bangs without getting up and looking in a mirror while cutting.