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 feel a coldness coming on

I’m sure it was just a matter of time before I came down with the sniffles – I’m surrounded by people who are getting through and over the winter cold. It’s almost nine at night and I’ve been pretty much on task all day (other than meals. I read during meals which is wonderfully recharging for me).  So this is NOT going to be a very long nor very good post for the day.wpid-wp-1424797314478.jpg

It’s OK for this website. This is my vanity blog, my website for whining and crowing and just sharing things. Like this picture of my cat. Meet Boo-Bear, my old man cat that is just a grump with the other cats, and a grump about getting his way, and a grump about me sleeping on my own bed when he thinks it’s past time for me to get up so he can claim that space. He curls up most days right where I sleep, snoring softly. At this moment he’s staring at me; it must be past time to feed him.

I’m not sure this sort of chatty post is going to go well on my professional website unless it’s on topic. I’ve selected the specific keyword phrases for that website now, and yeah…if I have a chatty post about a fiber event or a dyeing experiment, I think that will be fine. It can’t be all I offer. There needs to be meat to go with this salad, right? What do you think? Do you have a professional or business website, and if so, do you allow yourself to be conversational? Sure, no cats UNLESS they are cutely involved in the yarn in some way. Like this one!cats and string

Tomorrow is a pretty long day too. It starts with a WordPress meetup at 7 am and ends at the library at 7:30 pm. And that’s OK, too.



So…I fixed my jeans

I buy most of my clothes from thrift stores or from companies that adhere to responsibility standards for their workers and for the environment. Like Timberland. I’ll buy their shoes without hesitation. Plus I comb racks at Savers and Goodwill, looking for gently-used pieces to add to my closet. I started this practice shortly after the 2013 collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh. I promised myself to lessen my contribution to the profitability of this type of exploitation and so far, so good.

The searching out is fun, too. Like a little treasure hunt.

Anyway, these jeans…they are in like-new condition. But they were too loose around the waist and I hate wearing a belt. So this afternoon I got out the seam ripper and took off the band almost all the way around, made some strategic darts, shortened the band in the back so it fits again, and sewed that puppy back into place. Sewed the belt loops back into place. I win.

I biked

I got on the darn thing and rode up and down those six blocks again this evening. My knees were complaining so I only did that once – then picked up all the walnuts and ran around cleaning. I’m grateful for being able to do that.

Rochester Fiber has three new listings completed this evening and I’ve got notes for another page that I should be creating this evening, one outlining additional services. But instead I think I’m going to finish a book!

Pinterest, I’m in you.

Wow, that’s confusing.

I’ve got a new Pinterest profile and I intend to use the darn thing to find and share interesting fiber-related websites. And I’m thinking I should find and follow some of my favorite people but wow! that was hard.

Or maybe I’m just tired. Or it is the episode of Castle I’m trying to follow? Or maybe it was just overly confusing over there on Pinterest. Anyway, my new profile is and if I’ve followed you before, I want to follow you again. And maybe I should have been following you all along. Especially if you like fiber in any way at all.*

On other fiber-related news, I’ve learned you can use a drop spindle as a supported spindle if your spindle falls within certain parameters. Well-balanced is important, and the pointy-bottom, low whorl types work best. I’ve been working through my drop spindles, testing, as I have borrowed a supported spindle and it worked FANTASTICALLY but is now full. I want to fill another one and then ply the two together…but only have one supported spindle. So I found a drop spindle of similar weight and am making it work, and am not sure what will happen when that one is full but I bet I can find yet another drop spindle that works just fine. For this project.

But I really want to see if I can get this type of spindle made. Lovely, isn’t it?  Phoenix Moon can do the woodworking, and Gecko Glass Creations can do the lampwork whorl, and Fanny’s Your Aunt, I’m spinning with beautiful things.

I have a meeting at 7 am tomorrow and I plan to take my work with me. The spinning, not the library work or the homework or the website work, lol. Which will make me pretty unique, I’m thinking. A first, maybe, at the Rochester Open Coffee Club?

Well, bedtime! Night!



*This is a good portion of the people I stalk on FaceBook. But really? No idea. Maybe 10%? I may have to do a survey at some point and crunch the numbers.