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!


Blue-Handed Me, Again


Pretty lazy day so far! I had another dyeing project plus wanted to redip a previously dyed item. This time I not only got the blue hands but also wiped my face…fortunately, that cleaned up with soap and water. That project done, I cleaned up and headed to Squash Blossom Farm for a tour. I was very impressed – they have a diversity that runs from fish and lettuce to chickens to bees to home-baked pizza, and it’s all in a background of art and beauty. Longer blog post to follow, probably on another blog.

So I need to throw those two dyed things in the washer, and i need to do some work laundry, write some blog posts, and figure out dinner but really what I want to do is turn on the TV and sit down to the spinning wheel.


Confusion, Leading to Moments of Clarity

I feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth in terms of keeping this blog updated. And oh yeah, I HAVE! Which is not fair to any loyal reader and which is why I’m confessing and even waving my hands around to prove I feel terrible about it. Or that I’m excited. Not really sure at the moment.

You might have seen where I mentioned I was developing a new business to fill up my off-hours? Huge list of steps and tasks involved in getting this off the ground. I did a lot of brainwork during this last weekend in the company of Deb Brown. She was attending the Misfits Conference in Fargo and invited me to go along with her. We drove to Fargo and back and spent two days there. In between all the cool presentations and meals and touring she did with her fellow attendees, Deb filled my brain and notebook up with ideas and suggestions to make my journey more successful. This has added to my confusion even as it has led to some of that clarity that has been so hard to hold. And as I find time to review my notes, I am becoming more certain about my direction.

For example, I’ve been confused about when to write what, where. HomeGrown Technologies has its own website and I was determined to get something up so I could pass out cards last weekend. I have a responsibility to that website as well, especially as it will be a launching platform for my getting to work with other people and continue making the world a better place. So I seriously do not want to be talking about tuna sandwiches over there! But…maybe the dyeing. And certainly the fundraising and the events and websites I am creating. But do I want to share the minutia of my work/play?

After a great deal of thought, I think for the most part I’m going to be telling my overly-sharing, enthusiastic stories here where I’ve been writing for so long. And when a project is completed or when there is a call to action, I’ll write up the story on HomeGrown Technologies’ website and link back to here when appropriate.

There. I’ve said it. That in itself is a powerful stake in the ground for me. I was really having trouble creating content with that conflict confusing me. And I can’t have that; the stories keep coming and I need to get caught up. Eventually…but tomorrow I’m leaving Van again to head off on another adventure! This time to Smithville, Missouri, to do some dyeing with friends from Calontir.  Lilies War is one of my favorite events ever and I’m sure I will come home with stories.

So I got to get back to packing for that event. See you later!


Packing for Lamb to Loom is taking Foooreeeeever


I’m eager to get there. This is the first major dyeing event for me this year and poking around my stuff is making me very happy. I’m also making a list of what I have to take to Lillies, and oh I suppose it’s past time to get started on planning that adventure. Then home and right into the Girl Scout demo with, you know it, MORE DYEING!

Prepping for Saturday’s Dyeing Class

Here’s to dyeing! I spent the evening working on my class for Saturday’s event, Lamb to Loom. I took curtains down to pop their linen-y selves into a tannin mordant, along with my dye dress. I weighed things and figured out how much of the madder root I needed for my dye dress and a wool length of cloth. That amount was weighed out, rinsed, and set to soak in distilled water. I measured out the indigo I need for the dress and the linen curtains. It’s kinda cool if cheating but with the pre-processed indigo I don’t need to set the pot up ahead of time.

There are still eight gallons of distilled water in my car, and some of the table, and my chair. The pots and the trunk packed with equipment will go into the car tomorrow, as will my alumed fabrics. I have to tannin the linen  as well as soak it in alum but the wool only needs the alum mordanting. Of course I had to watch Supernatural’s season end. Very nice.

I also worked on the website for the new business, did some emailing with community people about some projects, and played around with a new-to-me mind mapping software. I’ve an idea of how to divide up all my blogging between my three blogs without having overlap and muddying things. 

I have to pack tomorrow so maybe I should go throw clothes into the washer, huh?

And then to bed.