Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dye plants from the garden

Our local herb society asked me to be their speaker for the April meeting and put on a natural dying demonstration. This weekend I began to play around with plants that could be in grown in the society members gardens. Dill being the "Herb of Year" was one of the plants I wanted to try. (Being that it is winter and snowing here I bought all my dye plants at our local grocery store). I used alum mortdented wool for all the dying.

Dill plants cut up

I rolled the dill plants in my wool and simmered it for a couple of hours then let it sit by the wood stove all weekend.

I had my hair cut at our local Aveda salon, the Aveda products are "green products" made with plants and flowers and smell wonderful. I asked my stylist if I could take with me a scoop of the Aveda tea leaves. I simmer it with bundled wool. One of the ingredient is licorice. My house was smelling good!

As I was fixing these beet greens for supper, I thought I'd try some on the fabric also.

I bundled some up in the wool.

After I cooked the greens I poured the water over the fabric and simmered it awhile.

It is so much fun when you open the package, just like a present. This was pretty but in the mean time I bought beet roots and chopped them up into a pot. I decided to throw this in with another piece of wool.

I simmered the roots and soaked both bundled wool the weekend on my wood stove.

Their color was so rich.

I also bought carrots with their top attached. I simmered them in my old iron pot trying to achieve green. I learned this from India Flints new book (more to follow on this).

Yesterday I washed (with a mild soap) and dried all the fabrics. They turned out beautiful. I cut off a few small strips and have them sitting in my south window to see how light sensitive they are. Clock wise from the top left the colors are from Aveda tea, bundled beet greens (I don't know if its from the first batch or just the beet roots, darn, I'm going to try another batch because it is full of different colors), chamomile tea (which is a very rich yellow), dill, beets, and a nice green from the carrot tops. Before the lecture I'm going to piece a small quilt using these and other dyed wool from onion skins, black walnuts, etc., all the dyes that grow in our local area.

I am very excited to show you my new natural dying book, Eco Colour by India Flint. It is filled with a lot of wonderful ideas. I love the way it was written, I felt like I was peeking into her personal journal. I also read she has another book coming out, I look forward to getting that one.
Her Blog www.prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.

Another one of my favorite natural dying books you cannot be without was out of print, but with much public pressure it will be back out in the fall. Wild Color by Jenny Dean. Jenny blog is www.jennydean,co.uk

Another one of my must have natural dying books (especially if you garden) is A dyers garden by Rita Buchanan. I don't know if she has a blog but if anyone does please pass on the address.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mexican textiles

My local quilt guild asked me to be their speaker for the February meeting. They want me to do a trunk show of my quilts I've made from my travels around the world, and the textiles I've collected.

I have several quilted wall hangings I've made with fabrics collected while on the trip for all my travels except for Mexico. I've been there a few times and have a brother who has lived there 25 years with his wife (who he met there) and their two daughters. He is a missionary. With the lecture coming up it gave me the incentive I needed to make "Fiesta Mexico". The first piece I used in the quilt is this small wool felted jacket I bought it in a second hand store in Texas. It is hand appliqued and embroidered beautifully. It is quite faded and I believe it's from the 50's or 60's.

Back view.

A women's dress I bought while in Mexico, hand embroidered.

detail of the flowers, I ironed on a stabilizer to the back.

So I put on my Mexican Fiesta music from Sirius radio, cut the jacket apart and began to place all of the fabrics on my design wall. The black striped fabric was hand woven in Mexico,(my brother brought it for me). I settled on a beginning design and used my daffodil dyed wool as lattice strips in between the blocks. With left over scraps of the green jacket I evened up all the blocks.

I cut the flowers off the dress, embroidered on a vine, then appliqued on the flowers. The stripe fabric became the outside boarder. I now am in the process of machine quilting the piece, and it is very thick sewing through the wool felt, batting and backing.

At the same time our local college is having a Global Awareness Festival. They spot light a different country every year this year being Mexico with art exhibits, lectures, music and traditional Mexican foods. I photographed this piece in their art exhibit, it uses the same stitches as the flowers on my dress. The label reads: Otomi Indians create colorful embroideries with plant and animal symbols.

This weaving description read: Clara Mendoza is a eleven year old niece of the great Zapotec weaver Nrnulfo Mendoza.

I photographed these cute mouse cookies at our last guild meeting. One of our talented members makes these treats.

Close up, the body is a maraschino cherry dipped in chocolate, with a Hershey kiss head. Too clever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have always been a "tree lover" and enjoy the different types where ever I travel.

On one of our hikes in Florida we came across this old, old tree called Live Oak. The boys were in awe of its size.

My oldest grandson climbed it as I'm sure hundreds of kids have done before. It was beautiful with the Spanish moss hanging.

We left Northern Florida and went further South to a more tropical area to spend some time with my parents. In their area there is a large variety of palm trees. On one of our walks I photographed some of them. This is a banana tree with a little bunch of bananas ripening, the long stalk hanging will open into a flower.

Coconuts ripening in another type of palm.

I don't know the name of this palm, but I love how all the foliage is on the tops of the branches. It has great structure.

At the top of this tall pine were a pair of osprey making a nest. The pine needles are very long and perfect for pine needle baskets. I made one years ago but did not enjoy making it, but I do love the bakets.

Look at the center of this hibiscus plant, it was a surreal hot pink with 5 little nodes.

And one more of natures "bubble gum" colors, this purple bush. Not sure of its name, I wish I could get that color out of it in a dye pot but I don't think that's going to happenn with this bush.

This is what the whole bush looks like, mixed in with Spanish moss. (this was taken in Northern Florida).

This pelican landed in my parents yard next to their pond while I was throwing bread crumbs to the fish. He stayed a while eyeing the fish.

And of course we can't forget the palm trees lit up in their Christmas finery.

A yard full reflecting on the pond.

To my friends who follow this blog, I try to update once a week, Tuesday or Wednesday. Next week I will get back to some textile fun!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas memories

We drove 2 days to our daughters house, slept a few hours along the way, unpacked when we arrived and a few hours later began mixing up cookie dough for cut out cookies (no time to waste, we only had 2 weeks). Have you ever mixed up a batch of cookie dough with 3 toddlers helping? Not sure how they would taste, the cookies not the kids! (I do look a bit tired)

The next morning up early and start cookie baking.

Big brother loved cutting out and decorating the cookies long after the little ones tired of it.

Some put more sprinkles in their mouth than on the cookies.

Littlest brother helped too, also ate his share of sprinkles, by the end you couldn't shake out the sprinkles the holes were licked shut!

Anxiously waiting for the cookies to bake.

Enjoying the fruits of their labor.

They have a wonderful orange tree in their yard. Grandpa took them out picking.

Little brother thought the tree was to hide under.

Peeling and eating with grandpa.

The next day we went for a wonderful hike at a state park near their home. Their favorite uncle hiked with us. Everyone had to have a hiking stick that they thought were "light sabers" from Star Wars.

This is a beautiful hike through a lot of little lakes with tropical trees and Spanish moss hanging.

A turtle trying to warm himself in the sun.

The next day shell collecting at the ocean.

It was crisp but beautiful.

We walked the beach looking for treasures, lots of beautiful shells to take home.

His own pile to look through until the waves came up over the shoes

Big brother played football with his uncle.

A great day at the beach!

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo