Sunday Musings


Today was a gardening day. Not a lot of gardening, as I was mostly tearing out weeds.I tend to work really hard in the early summer, then get busy with other things and the weeds take over. It’s not been so bad this year, but I’ve not been out for a couple of weeks and that’s all it takes. Today I worked to kick back some of that crabgrass!

Wool dyed with Queen Ann's Lace and a bit of copper is greenIt’s very humid.

But I did get some stuff done, then I stood there and listened.There were bees. Bumblebees and those bees that live alone and are smaller but look kinda like bumblebees. .And of course honey bees.They’re very attracted to the pumpkin blossoms.

I don’t think I ever shared the last of the Queen Anne’s lace dyeing.This was leaves and stems and flowers, soaked overnight, simmered for an hour, and then let to stew for a couple of days. After straining, I added about a half teaspoon of copper dissolved in hot water. I don’t think I heated it up, just dropped the mordanted wool in and in a couple more days, I got this lovely green, a green that is greener than this image implies. The dab of white is just there for comparisons, fyi. I’m going to be using this for hair and other felting needs.

Right now I’m working up some grey-headed cone flowers. According to the directions I have,You pour boiling water over them, and then finish as with the QAL. It brings more of the golds and rusty golds out.That’s what I’m looking for.

I was driving yesterday, looking at the ditches and had a thought about that wild parsnip. Have you noticed how we’re getting more and more of it every year?  It comes up in the spring and we watch grow and we watch it bloom and then the seedpods form and they turn dark. As the seedpods are ripening, the wildflowers start appearing. The Black eyed Susan’s,The coneflowers, the echinacea, the Queen Anne’s lace.They start to bloom just as the the highway department starts mowing. Are we just making this a haven for wild parsnip to thrive? I think we are. And making it more difficult for the wild flowers of late summer to survive. What about fall flowers? I think we should rethink mowing so late in the summer.


Ditch Weed: The Stink of Solar Dyeing

Queen Anne's Lace turns wool this lovely yellow using solar dyeing technique.Last time I posted, I shared I was starting some solar dyeing experiments with Queen Anne’s Lace. And as you can see from the image here, I did get a nice yellow. This was one week of wool sitting in a glass jar with the blossoms and water. Pretty, right?

Unfortunately, it stank even worse than I thought it would. All that lovely anaerobic rotting in the sun roiled out of the jar when I was checking it yesterday. My cat, Sam, startled and ran away. I put the lid back on very quickly, reluctant to work with the wool at that time.

But today I thought I might as well get if over with because it’s not going away. I had water at room temp, having filled the outdoor sink and a couple of buckets as soon as I got up this morning (thanks for the idea, Norrie!) Drained the wool through a metal strainer well out of range of the house, then quickly popped it into the warmish, soapy water for a soak. Thirty minutes later, I rinsed it a couple of times and spread it out to dry in the sun.

I also cleaned up the marigold jar that was set up at the same time. The marigolds had completed their seed-creation process while in the jar and the wool was full of vegetable matter. No dyeing had taken place so I just relegated that mess to the garden. I’m using it for mulch.

I can still smell this stuff on my hands. I’ve washed them in hot soapy water, cleaned the bathroom with Lime-Away sans gloves, and picked up walnuts. Still get a whiff of rot – and walnuts, the oil is pretty stubborn- from my hands as I sit here typing.

I’ve a second pot of Queen Anne’s Lace simmering; I learned my lesson. Plant matter is definitely a simmer dye pot. Roots work well for cold water dyeing, of course! And I found my supply of Osage orange so I should set up a solar dyeing experiment with that soon.

I don’t know that I will ever try this again….maybe a cool water dye pot that is not anaerobic would not rot as much? Got any advice?



Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne's Lace as a ditch weed


I sparked a very concerned conversation on Facebook when I mentioned I was ditch-diving for Queen Anne’s Lace. Its cousins, Wild Parsnip and Poison Hemlock, are also out there and dangerous. Great to see people care! So after verifying my research, I took off well after the dew had dried to harvest some of the lacy blossoms. Amid birds scolding me for invading their space, I quickly harvested about 6 ounces of blossoms, and a handful of mixed wild flowers for my table.

Queen Anne's Lace in scaleSam immediately had to check those out…she’ll probably drag them out of the vase when I’m not looking.

Queen Anne's Lace in cold water dyeing jarQueen Anne’s Lace has a lovely smell to it. Some people say it is carroty – maybe. It’s sweetly green, I agree. I buried my nose in the bag before pulling them out to weigh them. Can you see the red dot? That is, according to legend, Queen Anne surrounded by courtiers, or her lace collar.

I know I can get a fairly nice yellow by simmering the blossoms, but I’m doing an experiment with cold water dyeing this year. As the jar sits in the sun, will the dye pigment release into the water? It will with some roots, like madder, and with tea and coffee. But I can’t find any information on line where people say “no, cold water dye does not work,” just lots of suggestions to use hot water dyeing methods. But that’s why it’s an experiment; even if someone else gets results, will I?

One of my new favorite ‘will this dye?’ sources is Leslie Hall Consulting’s natural dye table. She does mention dye methods on some of the sources, and some mention that they will work with cool dye methods. Queen Anne’s Lace does not mention cool – is this because it won’t work, or because she hasn’t tried it? Nevertheless, I’m going to try. Along side my traditional marigolds!


I will overcome this

woman carrying lots of stuff, triggered pain
No, it’s not laundry. But she’s either in pain or singing.

holy shit. and I mean that…wow. back spasms.

OK, back story here. I am taking steps, literally, towards health and wellness. And with more steps each day, I realized my muscles are tight; probably why my ankles hurt so much all the time. I did some very gentle yoga-type stretching yesterday.

This morning, carrying laundry downstairs, my back muscles started doing charlie-horses. Every move triggers more! Fun!

They’ve started to settle down since I sat down, although at first I couldn’t even raise my arms to type. Or pull myself closer to the desk. This is stupid. I’m worth more than this. I’m glad I’m fixing this.

And joy in the morning! I got up able to walk. The ankle pains were really lessened just by that one session of gentle stretching yesterday.

Walking the sheep dogs

I walked over for a shower this morning, and saw people walking their border collies and other dogs. Wanted to get a picture but the phone was safely back here at the camper. Slept very well! 

It’s really been fun. Since we didn’t have to run home last night after setup, we walked around the barns including the Llama Barn, including the Sheep Barn. We were watching sheep out the window. We were watching horses out the window. We set out back with our chairs and made new friends. Just a great evening! So now we’re doing breakfast and I’m going to go find some more coffee and help clean because Stacy is got all she’s busy, she’s all busy and stuff and I should be helping. See you later folks!