Tuesday, April 29, 2014

black magic moondala

Late-night stitching, constantly questioning color choices. I always do that -- this started with mostly red but didn't feel right. So I picked the red out and went with coral, magenta and violet instead. Really wondered at that point. But then it hit me that these are the colors on both a calendar page and a favorite scarf that I love so much. That explained everything and even helped my stitching to coalesce better and easier. Funny how that works.

April's moondala, #4 in my monthly sewing ritual, was made with a black-magic silk-dyed wool moon and some green tulip-dyed wool as the background. The vibe is a combination of lunar eclipse, pysanky, and bee swarm. That's a lot for one small  mandala to hold, but it's all there.

We have a new moon in Taurus today. This is an ideal time for new beginnings -- in a little while I'll draw oracle and tarot cards and think about what seeds to plant, both literal and figurative. It's windy here -- looking forward to being inside today. A knitting project is so close to being finished, so very close.

Friday, April 25, 2014

everyone's happy

A very little amount of stitching has been done thus far on the April moondala. It's because I keep needing to be outside now that all the plants and trees and winged creatures are awake again.

Our bees swarmed last week right before my very eyes. It was a sight to behold and I felt quite honored that they held the ritual when I was present. Since we're happy with having only one colony, I found someone to adopt the swarm. Who just happened to have loaded a box and frames in his car that morning before work. Who I happened to call just as he was leaving work in Denver. So it all seemed meant to be and they and their new family live nearby up in the mountains. I didn't feel bad this time like I did last time they swarmed, to me it meant they were strong and healthy, resulting in too many bees for just one colony and the awesome natural manifestation of a swarm. The bees that stayed here with their new queen seem to be thriving. Everyone's happy.

Jan brought me two sections of tree trunks last week and I'm pretty happy about them. I'll take these instead of flowers any day, although I do love to get flowers, too. He once brought me branches of hawthorn berries which was also a big hit. This one is going to be a little garden altar near the nettle patch with Corty's tulips there in the background. And speaking of the nettle patch, it's time to harvest, blanch, and freeze as much as I can before the aphids come along. We had steamed nettles last night for dinner and a nettle quiche is up next.

Thanks for visiting, hoping everyone's happy. xx

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

violet vinegar

Another little moondala is on its way. The black color held nicely -- it's been rinsed, dried and basted onto a greenish background cut from last month's tulip-dyed wool.

Did you know that the violet blossoms we see in the spring are not seed-bearing? That violet plants bloom again to bear seed? We don't see them unless we search because the seed-bearing violet blossoms don't have petals or a scent and are hidden under the leaves. What this means is that I/you/we can pick and enjoy petaled violet flowers with total abandon in the spring!

I made a small batch of fresh violet, Viola odorata, vinegar this morning -- Earth Day Violet Vinegar to be added one tablespoon per glass of water. I love a little herbal vinegar added to cool water when I'm really thirsty.

The viola species is considered anti-cancer, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and can act as a diuretic, a digestive, a heart tonic and a sedative. And this isn't all. There is a saying that an herbalist should know 40 uses for one plant rather than one use for each of 40 plants. This herbalist is sure there are at least 40 ways to use violets.

Earth Day Violet Vinegar
Fill any-size jar with violet flowers and leaves almost to the top, as firm as a fairy bed I was told. Fill again with apple cider vinegar. Cover with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and cap with a lid and ring. (The vinegar will corrode the metal on the lid.) Let steep in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks, strain, and store in the cupboard. At this point it has been transformed into a medicinal violet vinegar rich in vitamins and minerals. I try to make my food my medicine so I either add a tablespoon to a glass of water or use it in recipes.

Even though the gardening season has only just begun, my sewing and knitting time has already dwindled and I don't want that to happen. Figuring this out.

And our bees swarmed last week, too. There was a happy ending, more on that later.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

black magic dye-pot

This makes six in a row for my monthly dyeing ritual using a fresh flower bouquet gone past its prime. I've loved having an excuse to buy flowers.

The rusty dye-pot has been outside since last summer and there was a delightful surprise in the bottom. 

I've been thinking about this month's moondala stitching and what colors feel right. I thought about a blood moon -- no. A green moon -- no. How about a total eclipse, totally black moon? -- yes. A pysanky moon? -- yes, yes.

Since one of the guidelines of this little mandala-making ritual I invented is to use eco-dyed wool, I wondered how I was going to pull off a black wool moon in just a few days. Then I remembered the egg-dyeing using silk neckties for color and pattern that I did a few years ago. I'm going for it. Even though it's technically not using plant material, recycling/reusing the dye in the silks seems almost as good. Several scraps of the darkest silk I have and one little scrap of white wool went into that rusty iron pot. It cooked for a little while and I turned the heat off. Added some iron water, cooked, heat off. Added alum. More iron water. Some acorn brew from last fall, cooked, heat off. 

Black! Magic!

Thanks for visiting and may there be magic in your dye-pot, too. xo

Monday, April 14, 2014

beauty way moonday

It snowed here yesterday and on into the night. Today is absolutely sparkling though and I saw that mama crow is brooding on her nest waayy up high where I'm hoping the squirrels won't bother her too much. Papa crow makes a racket for peanuts in our front yard but oh-so quietly loops and swoops around the back area where the nest is. Unlike last week, when things were just getting going, it was rocking around here -- cawing and clicking and even sounds reminiscent of baby calves -- it was wild. I wondered if that meant eggs were being laid. It appears so.

We're enjoying the April flower bouquet for a few more days before it becomes one big fat rolled-up dye bundle. In keeping with the orange vibe, the Clivia is blooming -- isn't that red ball the epitome of a "seed ball"? -- I just want to squeeze it. It's been there for months, the first one in all the years I've had this plant. Speaking of plants, the orchid in the sink has some aerial roots that look ready to bud? Another thing to look up, I'm new at the orchid business.

I used some Swedish tracing paper to trace a pattern yesterday, I love this stuff. It makes me cringe a little to think of all the patterns I've butchered when I could've used this. Like when I hopefully cut out a smaller size than I really need and then the original pattern is basically useless because it's all too small. Or when my daughters and I could've used the same pattern instead of buying individual patterns.

Today is a nearly-full moonday in Libra. Libra is the sign that makes us love and seek beauty, some call this Libra characteristic the beauty way. And with Libra also being the peacemaker of the zodiac, we'll be wanting things to feel just and right and balanced -- just-right balance. The full moon comes late tonight (where I live, MDT) and five minutes later, a total lunar eclipse. These energies beckon us to acknowledge accomplishments and our place in the world -- and to examine subconscious desires as we together embrace the future.

To the beauty way then.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


The bees like these spring flowers -- I'm not sure of their name but they're pretty little things. A colony of bees is a sisterhood and sisterhood is also the card I drew today from my mom's angel cards -- synchronicity is everywhere if I only look.

Thought I'd try to grow a rosemary tree! Not really, it's just a baby topiary made by potting, snipping and tying a seedling to a skewer, but if everything works out between us, it'll eventually be twice the height of the pot, about 12 inches. I won't think beyond that size for now. I seem to do okay with rosemary, it overwinters well in our house for some reason, maybe because of the humidity levels we maintain, I don't know for sure.

A week or so ago Michelle posted a smiling/mindfulness exercise by Thich Nhat Hanh to be done first thing upon awakening in the morning. It resonated so I'm stitching a reminder on this pillow cover (from Pier 1 a few years ago). Such an easy, gentle way to begin the day -- and there's something about the simplicity of stitching one lovely word at a time.

:) :) :) :) :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

out of the dye-pot: a light blue morning glory

Some little pieces of blue cloth came out of the turmeric dye-pot today looking much different from when they went in. Nanette and I were going for green in our dye-along (blue + yellow = green), but nonetheless I'm loving these golden results. There's a light blue morning glory in there -- a good omen, yes?

I'm not starting a huge number of plants in the house this spring but what seeds I do plant will be tended patiently and carefully. I'm trying to grow a few unusual, for me, plants, too. Henna, Lawsonia inermis, seed is in my refrigerator right now -- wrapped in damp paper towel, to be brought back to room temperature in four days until it sprouts, and then placed in pots. And Greater Celandine, Chelidonium majus -- an herb Maurice Messegue refers to in Of People & Plants (a wonderful book, by the way). If you've grown either of these before, I'd love to hear how it went.

Lately I've been hearing and reading reports about Gaia's ill-health and that makes me want to do my best for her. These warnings seem like wake-up calls that we collectively hit the snooze button on, don't they? There's something different going on now though -- it feels like a kind of stirring to reclaim hidden parts of ourselves. At this point on the spiral, I'm remembering and re-experiencing how hopeful April and spring can feel -- trying to take back tasks that I've unwittingly given away, and I hope cooperating more. Growing food, for example -- being a better farmer in the spirit of the footsteps of the farmer are her best fertilizer.

Thanks for visiting.