They had some information for the local museum, which - unfortunately - was closed that day.
And, the friendly man was interested in some wool for weaving, and so we talked about the one or other thing...
He told me that he once experimented with dyeing with natural dyes, cochenille being one of them.
But he didn't do that any more, to much fuzz.
Oh, how much would I like to try that kind of fuzz!
He said that somewhere in the attic there might be a little leftover, and if he finds it he'd send it. Make my day!
But, unfortunately, no message from him any more.
Until last summer. One morning Jeanet called. There were people looking for me, from Germany. I dashed to her shop, and, indeed, there were the people from Germany again.
Out of a beautifully woven bag a small jar was conjured, with the lovely little dried lice.
The man had found the jar in the attic, but he had second thoughts about sending it: it would have to pass customs somewhere, and it is animal material, and he did not want it to be picked out and be confiscated to be destroyed. That sounds sensibel!
Well - said so - the jar became mine! :-)
Now the research was started! The internet and an old book on spinning and dyeing I could thrive for the necessary mordants. Which is not so easy, as you don't want to be suspected of planning to extinguish your family... Grey haired old ladies can't be trusted!
So, here we start. A smelly business, but you don't have to stick your nose in it. ;-)
The next step: Put it in a saucepan with some water and let it boil. Tip: put a lid on, it is still a smelly business!
Now it is decision time: play it safe with a skein of wool, or dare and use three skeins of merino-silk?
The three beautiful skeins were prepared. One hour, 70°C, and then slowly cool down in the mordant solution. Done!
In the meantime a check on my dye. Still smelly. And some black stuff floating on the surface. It must be the "tar" the books were talking about. "Remove all of it, carefully", because you don't want any of it to ruin your wool. Okay - done!
NO!!! I DO NOT WANT THAT!!!
With a few drops of the wool mordant the colour of the paper changes!
Oh! THAT'S A KIND OF MAGIC!
The wool has to be rinsed first. And then into the dye. Simmer, nice and slow.
Dye one, dye two, dye three... cool down overnight.
Rinse. Hope for good weather.