• Ellen Kardell

Back to work!

I am back to dyeing but I'm realizing that the switch to Lanaset dyes meant going back to square one. The Lanaset line consists of a very narrow range of 14 "primary" shades, so you need to formulate all your own colorways. That said, you can mix about a zillion colors. The first step is to see what you have to work with, so I dyed single skeins in each of the primaries. The Lanaset dyes are much more lightfast than other acid dyes for wools, and this is why I chose to work with them going forward.

The yarn I'm using is a single ply wool, which will be used for tapestry weaving. You could knit with it; it feels a bit like Icelandic wool, but I think most people are too used to the softness of merino to consider the more rustic wools for their handknits. It is, however, an excellent yarn for tapestry weaving.

I've long been enamored with tapestry, since my days in Brooklyn in the 1970s, where I visited The Cloisters on a regular basis to see their incredible tapestry collection from the middle ages. I took a workshop with Archie Brennan back around 2002 and have wanted to do more since then but never had the time. Luckily for me, forced retirement is at hand.

Most people think of tapestry as an ancient decorative craft. However, tapestry as a fine art form is very much alive and well. Visit the Australian Tapestry Workshop for a taste of contemporary work. It's a very slow-to-work art form, but vastly appealing in its simplicity and artistic possibilities. No complex looms or tools are needed; Brennan created the popular "scaffold loom", which is made with readily available threaded plumbing pipe.

I made this loom for about $45. It's 28" high, and about 12" wide. I also have one that is 6' wide for a larger project I hope to start soon. The weaving in progress is a color study with 2-ply yarns that I dyed a few years ago.

Aside from everything else, the last six months have been completely unproductive for me. I've just been too unwell to focus on anything, and diabetes can make your brain fuzzy and unfunctional. But my blood sugar numbers are way down, I've lost 12 pounds (in 8 weeks!) and I'm feeling much more like myself again. Diabetes really does a number on your energy, and I can't recommend it.

Be well and be creative!

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