When I came home from our Guild's spin-in yesterday I found that a Good Fairy had left a smoke bush on my driveway. I guessed who the Good Fairy was - my friend Dorothy knows that a smoke bush is a bundler's Bliss. This morning I planted it and it now sits there snugly in its nest of straw.
Unfortunately this picture of horsetail is taken in my garden – in a bed which has been overrun with it. I have to admit, however, that this time of year it’s really quite pretty.
I cooked up a basket of horsetail - pulling it up where it’s invading the path. It’s one of those plants which have a desire for garden domination. I simmered the dyebath for several hours, let it sit overnight and then added my fibre and fabric. I held it just below the simmering point for several hours and then let it sit in the pot overnight.
A couple of days later, using the same bath, I did my first dyeing of local fleece. I have about 6 ounces of rovings from Olivia, a fine sheep who lives in my neighbourhood.
It was magical dyeing local fleece with something that grows in my own backyard (even if it was horsetail). And now I’m an addict, looking for my next hit of local fleece… I’m very involved with our Sunshine Coast Fibreshed, one of whose mandates is encouraging the production of quality local fleece.
Meanwhile in the garden, a couple of the woad plants a friend gave me last year are in full flower and I can see the seeds starting to form.
The madder plant another friend gave me has pushed through its straw mulch. It’s safe for a couple of years and then I’ll be after its roots.
Last spring I planted pokeberry seeds and they grew into small plants by the end of the summer. I wasn’t sure if they’d survived the winter as they were late poking up through the ground. But once they did they’ve been growing enthusiastically. I see stakes in their near future.
The other dayI emptied out the jars I showed in my May 7/15 blog. The frozen purple petunia flowers dyed the silk a lovely dusky purple. I still have to test the lightfastness but even if it fades in light I can always put it in books. I paid a visit to the nursery to pick up some more purple petunias for this year’s garden. While there, I found this amazing petunia (Mamba) with flowers like black velvet.
When I buy plants at the nursery I explain what the situation will be for them when they come home with me. They’ll be well weeded, watered, fed and protected from slugs. But they’ll be working plants. As soon as their flowers start to fade – it’s off with their heads…
It’s time to clear the frozen flowers from last year’s garden out of the freezer. Top left to right: fresh silver dollar flowers, fresh orange rhododendrons, frozen pink and purple hollyhocks. Bottom left to right: frozen purple iris, frozen delphinium flowers, frozen purple petunias.
I used a version of India Flint’s Stuff, Steep and Store method. I think this method has potential for plant material that likely wouldn’t produce good colour in a regular heat immersion bath.
I stuffed the jars full of plant material and a selection of wool and silk fibres and fabrics, put them in a canning pot, filled the pot with water to the jar necks and then heated until the water was just before the boiling point. I then turned off the heat and let the jars cool overnight in the pot.
I take them outside on sunny days to bask in the sun. The fibre and fabric are taking up colour well. The test will be to see if the colour survives washing. If it does I’ll then test for lightfastness.
When the sun goes down it gets cold. So they come inside and get tucked in for the night.