Tuesday, August 26, 2014

clothesline strung and blues hung


I was thinking of sunflowers while I stitched the August moondala, my monthly mandala sewing ritual. There was only one sunflower plant in the garden this year -- and it was a volunteer at that -- its yellowing leaves are tattered from hail and the seed head bows to the ground but still it remains. Sunflowers are considered guardian plants and I like that it chose a spot near the center to grow right behind Buddha to watch over things. Both the background and the moon on this seventh moondala are wool dyed with red shiso.

I held a natural dyeing workshop for The Herb Society of America, Rocky Mountain Unit, members and guests last weekend. Flowers and leaves were chosen from the flower mandala to create eco-printed silk scarves. Frozen pansies and Dyer's coreopsis demonstrated ice-flower dyeing and onion-skin solar dye was discussed. Labeled samples were passed and guesses were made on unlabeled samples. Cloth soaked while freshly-picked Japanese indigo, Polygonum tinctorium, from the garden brewed. A delicious herbal brunch was had, my favorite books were passed including India Flint's most inspiring Eco-Colour and Second Skin, and sky/cloud cloth was prepared. Silks and cottons were dipped into two vats -- the home-brewed Japanese indigo and an Indigofera tinctoria kit. Clothesline was strung and blues were hung. It was a wonderful day with beautiful plants and lovely people.

We are having some rainy days here now -- in between rain showers I found and picked enough dry plantain, Plantago major, to make a jar of plantain oil. Good for healing all kinds of skin issues from insect bites to infection, this oil will make its way into a soothing skin salve.

The red orach, Atriplex hortensis, is going to seed -- there's one seed in each little red round. I harvested Angelica seeds to share so just had to try making origami seed packets -- directions here. I was thinking about the harvest of seeds being the ending and the beginning.

Yesterday was a beginning -- of a new moon phase -- so conjure visions and make wishes now. xo

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

dyeing with the moon

It was another magical day with indigo. I made a double batch of the recipe in A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan using one pound of Japanese indigo leaves, Polygonum tinctorium. I dipped eight ounces of fiber -- a white silk top, a skein of Plymouth DK wool, a skein of perle cotton thread, two silk scarves, a stained white cotton napkin and a few smaller pieces. I wanted light blue and light blue is what I got. Just when I started dipping, it started to rain but that only added to the dreaminess. Everything is still damp in the top three photos, the silk top dried considerably lighter -- it's the one piece I liked better darker.

The napkin came out great so I've decided to carry on and make a complete set using all of our old white napkins, probably a dozen or so. This is #1 -- embroidering a number on each one will be a good way to keep track of which indigo vat does what and when. I've begun Shibori Girl's indigo class and between the Japanese indigo growing in the garden and the recommended indigo vats for the class, there will be different paths to the color blue.

The August red shiso moondala is coming along, blues and greens are very much in favor with me lately. Well, except for that new Lorna's Laces yarn up there for a Hitchhiker -- when I untwisted the skein, it went from nice to gorgeous.

The moon is waning now, getting smaller, letting go. In the garden, it's time to weed and prune -- I notice when I weed during a waxing (growing) moon phase that the roots do not come up easily, but during a waning (shrinking) moon, they do. This waning phase of the moon's cycle is a reminder for us to let go -- not that we can't let go during a waxing moon, it's just easier to go with the flow. I'm thinking the plants may let go of their color more easily now too and want to continue exploring this idea of dyeing with the moon.

Going with the flow.

Monday, August 11, 2014

red shiso moonday

The knitted shoulder cozy has been done for a while but other than trying it on in front of the mirror, I haven't worn it yet -- cooler nights are fast approaching though. I like it a lot and am thinking about the heavier winter version now.

I've had my head in the dye-pot lately. Three little wool scraps got their "green on" with red shiso, Perilla frutescens! I'd pinched back my potted red shiso plant (to stimulate more bushy growth) so thought I might as well do a color trial with the leaves. I dropped those six or seven red shiso leaves into a small dye-pot, added about a half inch of water and a scrap of alum-mordanted wool, and simmered them all together for less than five minutes. The dark green was the amazing result. Then I added another alum-mordanted wool scrap for about a minute -- the medium green was that result. Finally a tiny scrap of unmordanted wool soaked up the remaining water to become the lightest green.

New red shiso leaves are dark burgundy in color and as they grow larger, begin to take on a bit of a greenish cast, but not very much. It was a big surprise to see green come of it -- even the water was pink. I'm learning a lot in my garden this year and writing notes to my future self for next year's plantings -- red shiso, it is.

Today is a still-full moonday in the sign of Pisces. If you saw the full moon in Aquarius last night, you might have noticed it was a super moon -- meaning it was the closest full moon to Earth for the year 2014. I'm not so sure I could really tell, but it was crystal clear and shone brightly, enough to make night shadows which never ceases to amaze. Pisces makes us feel more sensitive and intuitive and we might feel like taking time off from regular life. It also affects our feet -- kicking back with feet up sounds pretty good to me.

And if you like delightful surprises like I do, I'm wishing you a week full of them!

Monday, August 4, 2014

dyer's moonday

Oh my -- now I know why its name is dyer's coreopsis and/or Coreopsis tinctoria -- the gorgeous blossoms give spectacular color. I wish there were 20 plants out in the garden instead of only four, I had no idea. The mordanted white wool (alum) was layered with fresh blossoms, rolled, and simmered 40 minutes in a small amount of water in an aluminum pot; the bundle was left sitting in the liquid overnight and then unrolled after another day in the open air. The photos are unedited except for maybe sharpening or cropping. One of the images shows three outcomes -- on the top is the mordanted wool, the middle is white silk (rolled and treated exactly like the wool) and the bottom is a moon-sized piece of white wool that soaked up the remaining water after simmering the bundles. Wool absolutely takes color better in this case and Kathy had similar results with dyer's chamomile here. Ideas are brewing and there will be yarn involved.

I don't know if we're being rewarded for all the hail we had earlier in the summer or not, but the weather has been great for the garden. If I could only grow one food, it would be cucumbers. Or maybe potatoes. I dug these up one night for dinner when I needed a vehicle for a sauce. It was nice that there was actually something there to be dug, and more to come, I hope. You never know with potatoes.

The basil is thriving and one batch of pesto is safe and sound in the freezer. More of that, too, I hope.

Today is a waxing moonday in Scorpio. Watery and fruitful Scorpio helps everything grow. Now is when to water our gardens and nurture our visions and wishes. If there are problems, Scorpio helps us to zero in on them and do a little pruning to restore healthy growth.

I hope your gardens and visions are thriving. xo

Monday, July 28, 2014

a moon-making moonday

I can hardly believe summer is starting to wind down but the signs are undeniable. The crickets are chirping and the locusts are buzzing. Potato vines are drying up and remind me it's time to harvest garlic. A murmuration of starlings has been hanging out in the trees in our back yard. And the blue jays are singing their pretty song instead of squawking. I love the way it all sounds and looks and feels.

Moon-making is a monthly full moon ritual for me -- this year I am stitching mandalas with home-dyed wool -- 13 moondalas. July's moondala is a flower-bouquet-dyed moon on a dandelion-dyed background. Inspiration for thread colors was all around but that scrap of cotton stayed close by whenever I stitched.

Dyeing with flower bouquets has been a nice way to extend their enjoyment -- those red, pink, yellow and white rose dye-bundles will help me remember the occasion and the people, as well.

Today is a waxing crescent moonday in Virgo. As the moon grows fuller each night, so too do our wishes and visions grow. Now at the beginning is when they sprout tiny roots and begin to stretch toward the light. Things usually need a little extra care and attention at this point.

And whispering "grow, grow" can only help, right? xx

Monday, July 21, 2014

moonday harvest

The moon on July's moondala is from a flower bouquet dye-bundle -- and the background is dandelion-dyed wool. I seem to be influenced by the calendar colors again, this has happened a few times before.

The dark-centered yellow flowers are dyer's coreopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria -- they're about 3' tall and ready to go to town as you can see. Hoping they self-seed, would love them to go wild.

Today is a waning crescent moonday in Gemini. In true Gemini style, many things are happening very fast -- there's so much going on in the world that I don't understand, I have no words. But here in this place where I live, I turn to the garden with these early harvests and to the dye-pot with its own special harvest, that of color. I feel myself finally sinking into summer and notice how the garden grows on its own with very little help from me. I basically water and weed and watch.  The garden reminds me that if any of my own plans or intentions haven't taken root to grow and thrive, they aren't likely to come to fruition either. Now is a good time for that kind of assessment. I pretty much know when a plant isn't going to make it or when I'm going against the grain on something but sometimes it takes a while to give up. To "give up" can actually be a good thing -- it's putting stuff into the cosmic mix to be changed, like composting.

And we all know the magic of good compost. xx

Monday, July 14, 2014

feverfew moonday

Three whites -- wool, silk shantung and silk organza -- emerged golden-yellow from the feverfew dye-pot. Tanacetum parthenium, what an easy plant to work with -- flowers, stems and leaves simmered for an hour, left to sit overnight before straining. The same process repeated with the cloth. (The wool had been premordanted with alum, but not the silks.)

We're already well-acquainted -- but still I sat in the middle of a patch of feverfew for a long time last week because I want to know the plants that grow with and around me on a deeper level. Taking a few moments to first clear my mind to better connect with feverfew, I buried my face in blossoms and breathed deeply. I tasted. After a while I recalled the first time I saw these daisy-like blossoms in a friend's garden, the strength of my attraction to them, and how that friend gave me seeds from those very plants. That was the beginning. And I remembered, too, the first time I realized that feverfew lights up the darkness and that she is a moon lover as well as a sun lover.

Today is a waning moonday in Aquarius, moving into Pisces in just a few hours. Was wondering why I wasn't falling asleep right away a few nights ago but then thought, yes, the moon is full. Of course. That's what happens.

Wishing you many good friends in your garden.