Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Weekend

After our long cold winter and spring we were blessed to have a warm, sunny weekend. My husband and I spent it outdoors, putting in our gardens, grilling out and best of all I packed a picnic lunch and off we went in our boat to spend the day on the river. The water was very high (the result of all our snow), we were able to get into tributaries we've never been able to before in 25 years.

The Spring green color felt so good on my eyes. We spent hours slowly trolling the river.

We were rewarded with seeing many critters, including Sand Hill cranes.

Back off the river there was a large nesting colony.
Their call sounded like we were in prehistoric times listening to Pterodactyl's!

The turtle were on logs sunning themselves, look how far this turtle climbed up this tree, seems impossible.

All that work and when we went by he jumped off back into the river.

I needed this day.

Back home the plants were calling. I thought I'd try dyeing with this Lunaria Annua.

Generally called Money plant because their little seed pods get full and round and look like silver dollars. With the latin name Lunaria, (luna meaning moon), I call them Full moon plants, the seed pods look like full moons in the Autumn.

On to the wool they went, rolled it up, steamed them for an hour, now the fabric setting in a zip lock bag under a heavy pail of water. Next week we'll see the results.

I also had this pot of woad growing I didn't have much so instead of processing it as you do indigo, I picked the leaves and rolled them in wool and have them processing as we speak. I've read the leaves will have you a burgundy reddish color. We'll see. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

End of Dandelion Days

After wrapping, freezing, pressing with heavy pails of water for a couple of weeks I finally unwrapped the fabrics, washed and dried them.

The raw silk did the best. Not real bright but a beautiful pale purple/blue color.

Some flower prints better then others. This would be a nice background fabric to applique on.
The wool fabric did terrible, it hardly picked up any of the flower print or  purple color.
I'll leave this fabric out and see how the color does in a few months. Will it fade to brown?

After infusing dandelions in sunflower oil for a week, their now ready to make into a natural dry skin lotion bar.

I used 1/2 cup each of the oil, Shea butter and local bees wax. 

I put an empty can in a sauce pan with a few inches of water. First I melted the bees wax, then added the oil and Shea butter, stir a bit. As soon as it melted take it off the heat, add essential oil for fragrance if you'd like (I added lavender, not sure if that was needed).

Pour right away in to your choice of molds, I used muffin cups with the papers. After it hardened they came off easy.

I made a few for gifts, wrapped them up in little bags I made from the dandelion dyed wool and wool bows dyed with daffodils.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dandelion Days to celebrate Spring

Sunday I took a little time for myself and warped my loom, the dandelions are ready and calling.  I'm so looking forward to using all the different dye plants in the coming months.

I first wove in a wet wool fabric strip then a row of dandelion blossoms, then another row of  wool.

This is how the first rows look. Yesterday I added more dandelions, and as they wilt I'll keep adding.
It is so peaceful working at the loom.

Last week I also picked dandelions to dye print some wool fabric.

Their so cute, how can you resist.

I rolled them up tight and placed them in a pot with water,

put the lid on tight and steamed them for a good hour. The next morning I placed it in a plastic bag and left them under a heavy pail of water for a week. (checking for mold everyday)

Sunday I washed and hung it out to dry.

The prints are so cute, I love how the little edges show a darker print.

 with Mothers Day flowers.


Dandelion lotion, is next on my list to make. Found on The Nerdy Farm Wife blog, (sorry I couldn't link it). She has a great blog with different recipes for herbal soaps, creams, etc.
This lotion is for dry, chapped skin, dandelions are very, very  healing.
First let the flower set a couple of days on paper towels to get the excess moisture out.
Make sure you pick flowers with no pesticides or fertilizers on them.

Next fill a jar with them and add sunflower oil ( or what ever oil you like)  to cover. You need to infuse the oil with the healing properties of the dandelions. You then can set the jar in a double boiler and simmer for a few hours. I thought I'd try it in a crock pot. (This is as far as I got).
If your not in a hurry you can put the jar in a dark cool place for a week or so to infuse the oil..
Next week I'll show you the rest of the procedure. If your ready sooner check out the Nerdy Farm Wife.

And one more thing don't forget the dandelion greens, they are very nutritious.  You can cook and eat them with a little butter, or just add fresh in a salad.

If you notice my blog pictures are getting grainier and grainier and no it's not my camera. I have blog site problems.
I'm working on getting this fixed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Earth Loom

If I wasn't a quilter I would be a weaver, I've played with it off and on throughout the years but always stayed with quilting, my first love.  Nothing better than curling up in a chair with a quilt in your lap and my hands stitching away.

While on Pinterest I saw a cute idea of small looms made for kids with them weaving flowers and grasses through. The idea kept rolling over and over in my mind until I came up with the idea to build a large loom and through out the Spring, Summer, Fall season I will weave in wool fabric strips followed by different dye plants and twigs that are in bloom at the time. By the end of Fall we'll see what we have, will the wool be moldy? will the plants have dyed the wool? will it be beautiful or a mess? It doesn't matter I think it will be fun!
So with the idea in mind I grabbed my husband and up goes the loom.

For the structure he had some old tee pee poles no longer use able for him.
He cemented them in,

a tee pee pole for the bottom cross bar and a curvy maple stick for the top beam.

I choose a spot where I could see it from my kitchen and studio windows, where it was sheltered a little from the sun, (there's a red bud tree growing in front), and last but not least where it isn't too close to trees with birds sitting in them.

Tonight I'm mordanting the wool, cutting in into 2" strips and this weekend the weaving will start.
A strip of wool and then dandelion flowers.


Back in Oct. 2007 my husband and I went to Shiprock, New Mexico for a week long weaving/natural dyeing class with a Navajo weaver. We camped on her property and were fully immersed in the Navajo way. Before we went my husband built us 2 looms, mine a traditional Navajo loom where you sit on the floor to weave,

and my husbands where you sit in a chair and weave. The better choice by far.
Before we went, starting with daffodils I natural dyed all our yarn to take with us.
The looms now hang and set in my studio, a reminder of wonderful times.
I posted about this experience Sept. and Oct. 2007 if your interested.

In the rafters of my studio I have an 8 harness table loom that my daughter and I wove on when she was young.

This past weekend I also started planting a few seeds, I'm way behind, there should be seedlings coming up already. A few I started, white sage, very hard to start, not native to our area but I'm giving it a try.

Lady's Bedstraw, a red dye plant.

Mormon tea, a orange dye plant. We learned about it at our class in New Mexico where it grows wild. there they call it Navajo tea. Made into tea it taste like chamomile tea.

I also planted calendula, a yellow dye plant but I really planted it to use for lotions and creams. A herb used for healing.

My hubby and I planted 12 raspberry bushes.

6 rhubarb plants, just starting to break ground.

My madder root plants are finally getting going, everything is so late this year.

Our youngest grandson made his First Communion this past Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate his day.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo