Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Garden, Birds, Fibre

Sometimes they look pretty even not fully open....

Sometimes they look pretty when the sun catches the stamen just right...

I'm afraid of bees. But I've learned, finally, that these ones don't care about me at all. As long as I don't get between them and their food..... I don't have to run away squeeking, I can stay and watch.

Even dead and dried, these alliums are interesting.

Golden Marguerite is another great dye plant. I need to start collecting the dead heads. Apparently you can freeze them without ruining the dyestuff.

Darrell, our friend the blacksmith, made this very pretty bird feeder for us. Darrell's work can be found at Wareham Forge - - or if you want to talk to him in person, he'll be selling his stuff at the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival on August 8 - 10th.

The feeder on the right is many times more popular, but these little creatures are very messy eaters and leave much of it on the ground. The squirrels are very happy campers.

By the by... if you happen to be a bird watcher, please let me know what kind of visitors I'm getting?

I'm pretty sure that this is a golden finch.....

But this fellow.... I have no idea. He's much larger, in the same size class as a blue jay (they are not hard to identify!) and prefers the sunflower seeds.

Just to round things out.... remember that lovely peachy colour from the second soaking of woad leaves? Here it is carded and fluffy....

And spun.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dyeing, Flowers

Pretty delphinium - all gone now. Big rain last night killed many of the older flowers.

Foxglove - all gone now.

This pink ecineachea is blooming, and survived the rain.

This regular old purple variety is about to bloom. Ecineachea has interesting shapes, even pre-bloom.

Lily, also recently deceased. They are such fragile flowers, even at the best of times.

White cosmos. Very pretty. At moment, I think it's my favourite annual, in all of it's colours.

What I did with my most recent weekend - dyeing woolstuffs with natural dyes. I invited a few friends over - Nina and Vandy. We used madder roots, madder plant tops, ladies' bedstraw, alkanet root, and two different dyebaths from woad leaves - all from my own garden!

We were busy!

Darrell brought us this tripod to hang our dye pots on. That's the madder tops and alkanet roots in those two pots. Their colours turned out somewhat disappointing so I have no pictures of their end result. Both the alkanet and the madder tops gave us a distinctly boring beige.

The woad results were mixed. I've never used woad before but it has such an air of complex mystery that even this little tiny bit of blue was exciting, but it was such a tiny bit that it was a bit disappointing too. I think I just didn't have enough woad leaves, or abundantly healthy plants to clip from, to produce enough pigment for the really exciting results.

Although, it's interesting..... this secondary colour from the leaves turned out quite nicely. It's bang on the results one is supposed to get from a secondary dye bath from the woad leaves - a pretty peach.

And madder is always a show-stopper. There are so many different ways you can use madder to get different results. For that straight up WOW of watching wool turn a different colour - just harvest roots that are at least three years old, rinse them well, chop them up......

.....throw them in water and simmer and add your wool stuff and simmmer.....

.......and watch that magic! Bright orangey red!