Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pokeberry experiment begins

Well, I picked the berries approximately one week ago with Jason's help while I was in South Carolina visiting all my peeps up there. Most of the berries were *very* ripe. We put them in plastic ziploc bags and Jason froze them for me to keep them fresh until I left the Burough on Saturday. As soon as I arrived home, I put them in the outside fridge where they remained until today. I guess the freezing or the time it took for me to mess with them again, something, broke a lot of the berries because all three of the larger bags were leaking juice when I opened the pot they were in and there was a good centimeter or two of juice in the bottom of the pot. That's okay though... I figure it won't hurt the dye quality none if they were breaking and leaking juice before I added the vinegar and smashed them.

I weighed the pokeberries as best I could and I have about 6 lbs. Still doesn't quite add up to even one gallon, let alone two in actual weight measurement. I should have thought of this before. I'm confused by these vague units of measurement. 1 gallon berries to 4 ounces wool? Is that 1 gallon of just the berries, or one gallon of berries and stems? And is it meant as a weight measurement or volume? I'm just not sure. Still... From my best guess, I'm going to attempt to dye 8 ounces of wool with slightly less than is recommended by Rita Buchanan (writer of A Weaver's Garden) for 4 ounces. We'll see what happens.Worst that I figure can happen is that the dye is a lighter shade than expected. I think I'd actually like a lighter pink better with the wools I had planned to pair the pokeberry-dyed wool with, so either way, as long as it's not a disaster, I'll be happy with the result.

So I've placed them in one of my large enamel pots with enough vinegar solution to cover the berries and set it in our warm garage with the lid on it to ferment the berries as recommended by Rita Buchanan as well as several people on the Yahoo! DyeHappy list. I need to let it sit for a few days, so I won't be getting back to it until at least Friday... What am I saying? I *will* get back to it on Friday, provided I have found alum by then... I've called like *every* drug store and supermarket from Carrollwood to the county line and even a little bit into Pasco county, and no one has any. Best I could find was that all the Publixes said that they stock it from the end of September to the beginning of January... Don't ask me why only then, cause I don't know. ::sighs:: So I've ended up just ordering it online... from amazon.com of all places...


ilana said...

You probably already know this, but when you go to fruit stands or orchards and they sell you a little quart basket, it's by volume. I'm not sure weight is involved. If you have a package of strawberries around, plop it on the scale and see what it says; I'm guessing the weight would be approximate. After all, if you weigh a gallon of some liquid, chances are it'll weigh a hell of a lot more than a gallong of strawberries because weight and volume aren't synonymous. I don't suppose you'd mind sharing what proportions you used for the vinegar solution for the poke berries, or something close to it? Good luck with your next dye projects. :)

Rachael said...

Sorry, I missed this comment until I got your e-mail today, Ilana. As I said in the e-mail, yeah, I realize that volume and weight aren't the same thing. I realize that what I wrote in the blog post is pretty confusing. I think I was trying to verify that I had two gallons of berries by comparing the weight of the pokeberries to the weight of two gallons of blueberries... All last minute jitters and fear of screwing up... I know it doesn't make much sense.