Although I was reasonably pleased with my most recent natural dyeing experiment, I was left with unresolved questions about why the cochineal dye didn't work. So I tried again under more controlled conditions. I still can't quite predict the colors I'm going to get, so it still feels like alchemy, but this time felt like a success.
The madder gave an unbelievable carrot-juice hue. And the cochineal yielded deep raspberry colors on the unmordanted wool, a soft lavender on an unmordanted silk/wool blend, and a crazy barbie pink on a mordanted wool several days later (pictures of that another time).
I quickly put the cochineal-dyed wool to use in a hat with staghorn cables. It might be appropriate to call this a 'secret project,' but I think instead I'll just say that I'm using the wool in a pattern that I hope to be published in a month or so.
I've been thinking recently, you see, about blogging about 'secret projects' (which I usually interpret, except during the holidays, as indicating a to-be-published pattern). The first time I got to say that, it was somehow pleasantly ego-boosting. But after seeing it a lot recently, I've come to think that it's too close to the self-important "I have a secret and won't tell you!!" proclamations that you hear from kids. I appreciate that people talk about 'secret projects' for reasons that have nothing to do with bragging, like explaining why there hasn't been much to blog about lately. And anyways, a bit of showing off is part of the nature and pleasure of knitting blogs. But somehow the term 'secret project' seems designed to put distance between a blogger and a reader, rather than connecting them. It seems like there are other ways to talk about these projects - for example, saying "a pattern I'm trying to get published" or "my cabled hat" instead of "a secret project" - that are informative and personable enough to draw people in, but still vague enough to make the final project a surprise.
I'm not trying to criticize anyone. I'm just spinning out some thoughts about this to provoke thought and conversation...