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Rita Trafford of Trafford Textiles and The Vineyard Weavers taught a three-hour workshop “To Dye For – naturally of course” during the annual Karoo Winter Wool Festival. The dye used during the workshop is derived from foraging pigments in nature from which dye-teas are created that allow for wonderful South African yarn to soak up all the colour.
Rita is in her sixth year of botanical printing and now also teaches people how to dye wool. “Botanical dying came shortly after that, and I have started weaving in the last year,” she says. “Every plant has different tannins, and one has to know something about plants,” she says about botanical dying. “It is often a little grey bush in the veld that will give the most exuberant yellow colours, for example. In the Karoo, one will find cochineal-affected prickly pear plants which look like it has mould on the leaves. If you scratch those leaves, you will find the most amazing dye, since the cochineal insects produce a vibrant red pigment. We have this lovely landscape and don’t have to import dye from other countries.”
She views weaving as a totally different craft where one needs only a basic knowledge of weaving, a craft which is “super easy” according to her. “The actual rhythm of weaving is a wonderful thing,” says Rita. “You can sit outside at home with a cup of coffee while doing it. One also does not really need a pattern, but the colours which you choose are very important to use in the structure of the weave.”
Contact: Rita Trafford – 082 551 6446; www.ritatrafford.com.
The ABCs of wool processing
South Africa is one of the major producers of wool in the world, with more than 90% of the country’s wool clip exported in raw form. Much of the clip is either Merino or from Merinos that have been crossbred with other breeds to include qualities for meat production. Although primary production is flourishing locally, the processing industry has almost completely died out.
South Africa’s wool clip from Merino sheep is highly sought-after for men’s suits and women’s apparel. Wool is shorn, classed and baled on the farm and then transported to brokers in Port Elizabeth. Here it is sold on auction and finally shipped to various countries for processing.
The major buyers of wool in South Africa are Standard Wool, Lempriere, Modiano, Tianyu, Stucken, Segard Masurel Wool Buyers and New England Wool. According to Christine Taylor of Segard Masurel, a well-known wool trading and processing company in South Africa and globally, buyers fall into two broad categories: Those who are buying for their own operations abroad, and those who are agents operating on commission.
To fully comprehend the ins and outs of the wool value chain, a good starting point is to understand the terminology.
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