Monday, December 10, 2012

After the dye workshop

Braulia and Emerita having a sit down talk instead of a stirring talk. 

I found a few more photos from that beautiful dye day in Chinchero, Peru, where Braulia patiently entertained and worked with me - for many more hours that first decided and was it ever a treat that I was not 'limited' to a few hours but could use and did use up the whole day - we did not leave the premises of her back yard/dye studio until after 4 pm. A long warm sunny day and ... we had had loads of fun and in the bags I carried to the bus was the proof, heavy wet skeins of beautiful yarn.

Emerita, stirring the pot of cochineal - Emerita is a stone carver and a painter and a history teacher, her stories of the events and timelines of the comings and goings of historical figures and buildings in Peru kept my ears flapping for the 9 weeks that I lived in Calca and went to 'school' Monday to Friday at Apulaya.

Photo by Emerita

I found this in another album, busy grinding cochineal for the dye pot - as I mentioned in the previous post, I was slow and meticulous - moving the round rock from the right to the left hand at regular intervals - my muscles are not ..... really used to this kind of  hard work - it is ... perhaps not the hardest job in the world I know that.... but then again, just like breathing at high altitude which was a job in itself if I tried to pretend that I needed to hurry from A to B - grinding by hand requires its own set of toned muscles. But I got it done.

Photo by Emerita

This is one of the lovely photos that Emerita took whilst I was busy .... doing something else, who knows what - perhaps grinding more, perhaps trying to figure out whether to wear my sunhat or the sweater or not. It was a warm day - and there was semi shade by the stove - and so .... a lot of the time I was not wearing my hat, I got too hot, and I even chose to not wear my wool sweater - thinking I would be warm enough - results of the hat decision can be seen at the end of this blog post.

Photo by Emerita

200 grams of nice wool yarn taking the colour of the chilca leaves in the dyebath. A pretty pale yellow - the skein was hot and nicely saturated by the dyestuff. But since we were not looking for pretty pale yellow but rather for a deep pungent olive green the yarn was lifted out of the pot and then...

Photo by Emerita

We added this sulphur to the dyewater, stirred it well and ..... threw the pretty yellow skein back into the clay dye pot.

Photo by Emerita 

This is what came out after a few minutes - pungency and dark green instead of delicate yellow. Green is a challenge to me - in that I don't seem to be able to really get hot and excited about it - give me reds and oranges for that please! But.... this skein dried up really nicely, the colour lightened up a bit and really..... it is a lovely green which has the perfect hue to brighten up the reddish purples of the skeins dyed with the cochineal.

However the result of the on and offing of my sunhat was this - we were up high in the mountains, I knew that the air is different, I knew the sun's rays were stronger and yet ..... my brain and preoccupation was focused solely on the joy that I experienced lifting yarn in and out of pots, stirring, later rinsing and then hanging side by side with a chorus of drips and drops of clear water sliding off the skeins. And doing that I was not really taking any notice of the amount of sun I let touch my face. Also.... this stage of the swelling did not occur until about 48 hrs later - when I woke up Thursday morning my face felt funny .... I sat up, looked in the mirror across from my bed ... immediately laid down again, wondering if ..... I should clean my glasses ...... ended up rubbing icecubes on my face and a few hours later had a visit at the local clinic to take home cortisone pills, cream and another A+D cream for when the cortisone treatment was over.
Self portrait!

So People, if you go to the Andes, or anywhere at high altitude ..... don't take off your hats - and do wear lots of sunscreen. And if you are shaking your head at my ignorance - remember, I grew up in Denmark, the flattest of flattest - the highest point is Himmelbjerget at 147 meters, where I live now in Nova Scotia the two bumps we call North and South mountain are not much higher than that - and so ... I have learned a lesson - I keep my hat on - at all times!

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