Tuesday, October 28, 2014

crafting our day of the dead

October's moondala is #10 in the eco-dye & stitch 13 moondalas project. The fibers are recycled wool dyed with onion skins and raspberries -- my color choices were most definitely inspired by last year's October moon cloth. The stack is growing.

We had our Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, family get-together a few days ago. After dinner, our loved ones were remembered and honored with photos, memories and stories. We cried and laughed both. The altar had more photos than ever this year -- as our family grows, the circle of loved ones gone to the Great Beyond gets larger, too.

The seeds that grew this tradition were planted after our boy, Corty, died of leukemia when he was nearly seven. This ritual-like gathering bonds and strengthens us and for me it is necessary.

During our time together before dinner all 13 of us just hang out. There's a football game on in one room and music playing in the next. Basketball outside and Foosball inside. And there is always a craft. A few weeks ago at a re-use store closeout, Jan bought me seven identical snowy, sparkling churches for a nickel each. They've gone to the dark side.

It always ends with chocolate cake. It was a good day. And I wish you a good week. xo

Monday, October 20, 2014

lovely moonday

It is warm and windy and gorgeous out there. I'm finding pretty leaves to press and bright marigolds to cut for our Day of the Dead altar. I noticed a few nature-made dye-pots in the garden, one in a birdbath and the other in a tote bin. That made me want to join in on the fun so I cut some red amaranth and plopped it into a dye-pot to sit right there in that exact spot for the next few months, maybe even until spring -- counting on rain water so hope it rains soon.

The little October mandala stitchery of raspberry and onion eco-dyed wool continues to be a pleasure to work on but I can't stop looking at and squeezing the Noro Kirara yarn for my next project -- the Stitch Sampler Shawl that Deanna showed us a few weeks ago. I've never worked with Noro before and am curious about how the three different colorways will unfold.

Today is a waning dark moonday in Virgo. It's time to relax and rest. And release. So I'll sit tight and wait until the new moon on Thursday to cast on the shawl. Hoping for a wonderful week for all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Today is a waning half moon. How fitting because I feel like I'm halfway there on a lot of things.

But hey, there's a soft cozy place to sit on the front porch while I regather myself.  The sun has lowered enough that it shines directly on those porch pillows for a little while every morning. The change in light is just magical. I'm keeping track of this fleeting beam of light -- when it came and how long it stays. For the first time ever. After living here for years and years. Wow.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Monday, October 6, 2014

moonday homekeeping

Autumn home-keeping rituals are underway at my house -- drying and tincturing a few more plants, roasting a pan of tomatoes to make 3 cups of tomato sauce, and making thyme tea bundles. I tried the bundle technique with chocolate mint but the stems are just too long even though the flavor is fantastic. The olive-looking things in the pan of tomatoes are chocolate cherry tomatoes, in case you're wondering.

Nearly everyday I go outside and rinse off another potted plant to bring back in the house but there isn't much else I want to harvest from the garden. I'm beginning to change my views about the obligatory harvest -- realizing we don't have to eat or preserve every single tomato, plum, or bean. Some of the bounty is for people, some is for wildlife and the rest goes back to the earth.

More seed packets have been made and jars properly labeled, labeling is my weakness. It occurred to me that I rarely make quart-size medicinal tinctures anymore, except for echinacea. When I first trained as an herbalist everything was made quart-size and sometimes even larger -- new herbalists can be overzealous. Actually, that goes for anything new I guess. More than once I heard "not to go overboard with your herbal pharmacy because you'll end up throwing it all out in 10 years." Which is exactly what happened. Small batches are not so intimidating to make or use -- infused vinegars are pint-sized now and medicinal tinctures are even smaller, as I delve into the energetic use of plants as medicine -- using 3 drops instead of 30.

Every fall I look at that brown pillow cover and every fall I don't know what to do with it. Today I decided to either replace the existing patches or turn them into houses. I sort of like the houses. The calendar cloth is from last year's full moon sewing ritual.

Today is a waxing moonday in Pisces, a moist and fruitful time. Piscean energy is creative and intuitive and we may just find ourselves retreating from the outside world to spend time in the inner world.

To a beautiful week.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Did you know dried blue malva flowers are nice in a moon bath? If you put the flowers in a little muslin bag and squeeze it in warm bathwater it'll turn the water blue but it won't turn you blue -- especially nice on a blue moon (the second full moon in a month). In case you're wondering we haven't had a blue moon since 2012 and the next one is July 31, 2015. I used to make gift blue moon bath kits -- and when I came across an old package of blue malva flowers in a plastic bin in the basement, I had my doubts that there would be any color left at all much less blue, but there's a touch of violet in that warm water. We'll see how some snippets of alum-mordanted wool look after a few days.

I've been knitting and loving woolly leaves for book markers and maybe a garland of some sort.

A little bundle of semi-dried thyme makes a perfect cup of tea. Five minutes in hot water also seemed to rehydrate the leaves and they look and smell good enough for a few more go 'rounds. Thyme tea for medicinal use would need to be infused much longer but I like it this way simply for its delicate taste. The bundle-in-a-cup method works nicely and there's no straining involved.  Now I'm thinking about which other herbs this technique would work with.

I read that tomatoes should be picked with stems intact to ripen better inside and these twosomes hang perfectly on the drying rack. Two rows, close to the floor in case they break away -- and the dogs are not one bit interested.

Thanks for visiting and happy weekending. See you Moonday! xo

Saturday, September 27, 2014

autumn moondala

The first year that I ritualized the full moon with art was by painting a girl and her moon on itsy canvas each full moon night for 13 moons. The next year I stitched 13 little wall cloths with full moons and tiny houses with eyes. And this year it's mandalas.

September's full moon mandala is the ninth of 13 moondalas. Its wool moon and 4" square wool background were dyed with homegrown dyers coreopsis, the difference being the darker background had an alum pre-soak. I tried and failed all three times to shisa stitch the mirror (like the tablecloth up there), then decided it would be better learned on something bigger than a half-inch in diameter.

It's time to act before cold nights set in. I've been gathering a few more herbs and flowers each day, even small amounts which is usually all I have, dumping cloth and yarn out of every available basket and refilling them with herbs. The goal is to dry the plant material quickly and completely -- baskets allow for good air flow to do the job well. With the moon now waxing, I'll be infusing vinegars with herbs and making a few medicinal herbal tinctures. Both the vinegars and the tinctures will be strained and decanted on some future full moon -- the vinegars will be ready in a few weeks and the medicines in six weeks.

Jan and I took a mountain drive the other day to "see the aspen turn" (a local phrase). The sky looked exactly like that, not a cloud in sight. It was so nice.

I've been visiting and admiring Lyn and her hexis over at Liniecat @ Large every since she started blogging, I think -- she recently gave me the honor of a mention in the Worldwide Blog Tour. It is a way to visit new places to meet and get to know new bloggers. Part of the way to participate is to answer some basic questions like what, why and how a person blogs. The other part is to mention some blogs that you like and visit. I am seriously going to have to draw names out of a hat and then ask them if they'll want to participate so it'll take some time. For now, the blog list on the sidebar includes some places I visit, but not all. Yes, that part will take some time.

The moondala project is an example of my sewing, knitting, and dyeing -- I like to make things spontaneously but I like a good plan, too. I try to be conscious of the earth and the moon. Being an herbalist, my herbal preparations are made as much in sync with nature as reasonable -- and we live in the city so I try to make good use of what can be grown in our space whether it be for food, medicine or dyeing.

Have you ever had the dream where you discover a room in your house that you didn't know even existed and you're so happy because you've found it? Well, that is exactly what blogging is like for me. xo

Monday, September 22, 2014

autumn moonday

Today is Autumn Equinox and also a dark moonday in the sign of Virgo. Day and night are equal for a brief time before the darkness grows and we once again turn our focus toward inner things -- hopes and dreams, books, gatherings, gift-making, even housework.

But first, I like to think about what to let go of before beginning to focus inward. I seem to write a lot of notes to myself and make little lists on papers (or sticks) of what I either want to release or what I hope for. A small pile had built up so I burned them all this morning and consider this to be part of my letting-go process. A stick I'd written on didn't want to burn and I wondered if I didn't really want to let go of what was written on it! But finally it did.

Then I thought about things I hope for and look forward to in the darker months ahead -- plans, projects, qualities, people. I gathered the seeds I've been harvesting from the garden the past few weeks and collected a few more fresh ones this morning -- then I made a seed mandala to symbolize what will grow in the future. This required a steady hand and mind to make so that was good as I tend to get excited about things like this. It's still not perfect with all the little seeds that bounced everywhere, but it is, as they say -- perfectly imperfect.

Autumn is really not the best time to harvest southernwood, Artemisia abrotanum, but I went ahead and collected all I felt was possible without damaging the plant. Four nice big bunches were cut and hung for a future group project and oh the fragrance wafting through the air reminded me how very much I love this artemisia. I'm showing how to tie the string for hanging bundles -- this way as the plant material dries and shrinks, the string will actually pull tighter and the plant material won't slip through. 

The dandelions are so nice this time of year and aren't quite so bitter, they really sweeten up with cooler temperatures -- these pickings are for Dandelion Italiano. Our Lady of Guadeloupe partially took on the Goddess Bast a few days ago, I hope she doesn't mind the company. September's moondala stitchery is coming along and I'm getting ready to cast on some knitted leaves in fall colors, pretty excited about that -- pattern here

There is still so much going on outside, the flowers are giving it their all -- it's like fireworks in the garden. The big show. The grand finale. I'm wishing you a beautiful equinox day, whether it be autumn or spring. xo

P.S. If you've come here via Lyn and the World Blog Hop, welcome! I'll pay the honor forward next post. Thank you, Lyn!