Jennie Slick and I are in Albuquerque on our way to do a three day workshop in Massachusetts. Just before I left Phoenix, I washed and rinsed some custom yarns for the students to look at. One group of them was dyed with cochineal. There’s a picture of the grouping below. Isn’t it amazing that one dyestuff can yield this many colors? These are only a few of the results that you can get with these amazing critters, who are just stuffed with carminic acid.
Many authorities say that the Navajos didn’t dye with cochineal; that they only used raveled threads, sometimes recarding them. Others, such as Kate Peck Kent and Joe Ben Wheat thought that they could identify Navajo handspun that had been dyed with cochineal. I’m interested in following up on this to see if there’s a definitive answer, and I’ll fill you in on my results.