After much rumination and research, I have finally dyed up some black yarn.
Black yarn is associated with a big problem – something known as “crocking” – when pigment rubs off on your fingers as you knit. (The same thing happens with new indigo-dyed jeans that rub off on your skin when you wear them) *
Black dye particles are larger than other dyes – after dyeing there is always a layer of pigment at the bottom of the pot… Anyhoo – I decided to give it a bash, and am very happy with the results. Especially with batch #2 and now, with batch #3. It also seems that YOU are happy that I’m making black yarn – thanks for all the orders!
*do not soak your final project – wash gently in tepid water. Dye rubbed off on hands while knitting is not permanent and will wash off with soap and water.
I said this on Instagram: I imagined a semi-solid, silvery black. Distinguished, like George Clooney. But with a big peppering of Johnny Cash. So this is my offering – I’m calling it “Bête Noire”, my black beast.
There’s something you may not know about me – sometimes I write stories! Under my secret nom de plume, some of them have even been published! This is one from a long time ago.
GEORGE CLOONEY AND THE UNSEEN, another yarn spun by Lily Turner
I found him late one afternoon when I went to dig some burdock roots to add to the supper pot. He had been foraging also, but by the time I came upon him, he was sitting disconsolately on a tree stump, chewing a stalk of something inedible. I motioned for him to follow me, and that is how it came to be that George Clooney lived with me, with us – the Unseen Tribe, for one season of the river.
The Unseen Tribe consists of three hundred and eighty-four people. We have a sister tribe, the Unnoticed Ones. At last count, they consisted of four hundred and five people. Their settlement is even deeper in the tangle of jungle that is our world. We meet only rarely, but we share the ability to hide ourselves from others – it has always been so.
I presented George Clooney to my family and friends. They did not question my decision to be seen by one of the faded people. It was obvious that he needed help: he was in a disheveled state – clothes torn, hair awry. We hastened to give him a drink of chestnut honey and herbs. He would join us for the evening meal that night, and on many nights to follow. My father gave him some rough linen trousers to wear. They were the legacy of a misguided missionary and were many years old, but freshly washed in river water and laid on fragrant bushes to dry. Somehow it didn’t seem likely that George Clooney would wear the customary leather codpiece, as sported by the men of our tribe. We had tried to make the missionary man wear one and he had been most adamant that it would be unseemly for a faded person to be seen thus attired.
Because George Clooney was new to us, he had to sleep outdoors for a few nights, to give his dreams a chance to meet ours. We supplied him with soft leaves and vines.
After a few days, my father said that George Clooney should move into my woven hut with me. He was still in a slightly confused state. He couldn’t seem to remember how he had come to be with us and what he was supposed to do next. We conversed with signs, sounds and little drawings scratched into the dust with sticks. As usual with a stranger, it was much easier for us to understand him than the other way around. When truth dawned on him eventually – when he realized that all he had to do was be quiet within and he would understand, we all laughed with relief. George Clooney became very talkative.
He tried to explain the concept of “fame” to us. Primarily, he seemed put out that we had never heard of him or ever seen his likeness. This caused him great distress and his anguish made the children cry. I took him aside and gently tried to explain that in our tribe, stories only live once. You live your story until you die. Others know your story, but may never tell it. When you and your generation die, your story ends forevermore. His way of living a story over and over was akin to torment for us.
George Clooney shook his head and made a little whirling motion with his finger next to his temple. The children saw this and laughed. They followed him to the river where they all went for a swim and played mud games until dusk.
Although I never considered George Clooney to be mating material, my friends and family all teased me mercilessly. I tried to tell them how I felt: He is not a good-looking man. He is a bad, no, atrocious hunter. He is way too tall. He walks funny. He calls me Addle.
But they carried on and so I learnt to smile and ignore them. The previous faded man who had visited us, was known of only because of the outlandish pair of pants he had left behind, and the mark of his height on the wall of the fane. We as a tribe had little curiousity or wish to know more. The children followed George Clooney for a few weeks, mainly because of the novelty of it, but when that wore off, he was mostly on his own. I could see that this bothered him inordinately. I guessed it was because of his lost life of celebrity and that he missed having an entourage. The men tried to teach him, but his hunting skills remained poor. The women giggled behind their hands when he approached.
At night in the hut we would lie at opposite sides, facing each other. In the morning we woke at the same time and talked about our dream. George Clooney could not understand how we could dream the same dream together. Often we would continue a conversation that we had started sometime in the night, in the middle of a dream. It left him mystified, but also filled him with delight. After some time, once we had become comfortable together in our dream world, he showed me what it looked like in the jungle where he came from. I was enthralled by the high structures and moving machinery. The amount of people in those dreams was staggering. It was a big surprise for me to see amongst the faded ones, some that were drenched in a kind of glossy darkness. There was a dreadful odor in those arid tree-poor places, filled as they were with all these bleached and tarry people. Some nights George Clooney would meet others in my tribe for dreams. But mostly it was just him and I.
When the cool rains came, we moved closer at night. I knew without him saying so, that I was also not attractive to him. We shared warmth as cubs would do. Between us was a bond like that of a sister and a brother. It was better, because we were not born to it, but had chosen it to be so.
One night I left George Clooney to spend some time with my sister, Ohtli. We laughed a great deal and applied smudgy dark circles around our eyes. In the morning when I awoke I saw that George Clooney was still asleep. His spikey black lashes lay on the tops of his cheeks. The crinkly feet of birds appeared at the corners of his closed eyes as he smiled in his sleep. I wondered who he was with. I knew that it was not one of us, because everyone else was awake.
When he woke, he went straight to the river. I found him sitting there later that day. He looked sad and said that he wanted to go back to his own people. He yearned for the marrow of large animals and sweet gloomy drinks that fizzed. I didn’t think so much of these things and found it hard to understand. But unlike the Unnoticed, we do not enthrall or ensnare, so when I told my father of George Clooney’s wish, he said: Atl, take him to the end of the jungle.
So I did. The night before he left, we had a big feast. There was dancing and drinking and the beating of drums. Before retiring, my father marked George Clooney’s height on the wall of the fane. The wall of the fane was divided by an almost solid band of cross-hatched marks. The Unseen tend to grow to a similar height. Then there was the height of the missionary man, about one head taller than us. Then, towering above us all was George Clooney. The tallest man in the world. That night the two of us shared a dream in which we did the most outlandish thing – we touched our lips together once, with some amount of pressure. It resulted in a pleasant stomach feeling. Like shiny dragonfly wings fluttering.
When I returned to my hut, I painted his bush-honey coloured eyes on the wall above my sleeping mat. If I squinted my eyes, I could imagine his face hovering there in the little sticks and dried grass. That night in my dream I saw George Clooney walking away along the river’s bank. He turned around once and waved. He called out to me, but I couldn’t hear what he said. He was already too far away.