WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

OH MY GAWDZ, my Indigo suffruticosa is getting flowers!!!!! It’s been under a professional level grow light since Sept 30th, has doubled its size and is looking properly woody shrubs and now there are flower spikes in the leaf axils!!!! I was going to harvest at the end of October, but I want to see now if the flowers go to seed. Hoofies crossed!

Sotto voce part 2

After smashing our trusty Nikon D90 last month, i’m still trying to get used to the new Settings and Things on the replacement, a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. Apparently i need to read the manual, go figure πŸ™‚

The Nikon would allow me on the automatic setting to get the most beautiful daylight shots that showed texture, true colour and fine detail. The Lumix does fantastic close-ups on several settings, but the light effects are not the same. I suppose i should be thankful though that testing it doesn’t ‘waste” film, HA.

So, with 4 different settings (that i of course did not take note of), here’s “Sotto voce” again with different looks. None of them portray it properly, so i guess that’s this evenings reading, and tomorrow’s testingΒ  on the to do list.

And those green dots are coming off, changing to the tawny fox and peachey colours instead. I have a few things more to do to it, and then it gets mounted, hopefully for a virtual exhibit. (If anybody from the fibre group i’m in ever answers my emails and FB questions that is………………………………….)

Indigo in August

Oh my, this particular species (Indigofera Suffruticosa) does NOT like Calgary’s cooler nights! I noticed every time the temperature dips below 15C, it folds its leaves down, almost looking like the old “sensitive plant” mimosa pudica! We haven’t had many “heat waves” this summer either, a phenomenon in Alberta that is called hot when the temp goes to 28-30C (82.4-86F) for 2 days in a row πŸ™‚

OOO, it’s grown a magnificent 3″ since i transplanted the beginning of August. Much sarcastic joy.

But at the rate it’s grown since it was sown in the middle of May, i don’t hold out much hope for a crop beyond a few handfuls. I’ve tried moving it to a pot with richer soil than it had been started in, and have greenhoused it with a plastic bag suspended over a peony cage, with nothing to lose at this point. We’ll see how it does by the end of August. That’s when temps start dropping even more at night, sometimes down to 6C (42.8F). Not knowing either how “mature” a plant needs to be before harvesting also leaves me thinking there will be little indigotin in whatever i do manage to strip off. Deb’s is past the stage of growing, and is now processing hers and using it…..

I doubt i’ll get flowers, and if i do, i doubt even more that they’ll mature enough for me to collect seed for next year. I’ll chance planting next spring the seeds i have leftover from Deb in Texas this year, but since indigo is notorious for needing fresh seed for each year, who knows what the germination rate, if any, will be. I may try a different indigo type next year, as my first grow attempt in 2014, was Polygonum/Persicaria tinctorium which grew to a very leafy 3 foot height before it was destroyed by hail, another Alberta garden fact.

I have also realized that the way our townhouse is situated that it’s unlikely i will ever have a stupendous garden here, even as tiny and easily manageable labour wise as it is. Late May and June’s sunlight was magnificent, but of course as the angle of the earth turns through the seasons, much less full sunlight hits the backyard…… I REALLY miss the daylong full on Southern exposure the Old House had!!!!!!!!!!!!!

madder returns, and baby blue hopes

So………………..this is the culmination of 3 and a half years of growing madder. There were 4 winters in that time span, and the first three i had the good fortune of a large garden, where the huge pot could be heeled in (buried and well covered in other words) for our harsh winters. Not so with the recent move and downsizing though: i kept the pot against our sunny house wall by the heat escape vents, wrapped and covered it well, but no growth at all when spring started. Time to “harvest” roots, regardless, as madder is good to dig up in at least it’s third year (5 is optimum apparently).

I dumped the pot, and pawed through it, working as fast as possible because there was a new ant home in the bottom (i HATE ants: they creep me out, have done since i saw Salvador Dali’s “Un Chien Andalou” when i was 16…..) and was very disappointed. Not only did the roots never get below the depth of half the pot, but they were SMALL, stringy and unfortunately, had started to rot. POOP.

I ended up with 65 grams of “fresh” root, which as i understand means they would dry down to about one sixth of that, not quite 11 GRAMS…… I can see a red tint to them, but am not hopeful for good depth. I will use as soon as i can because they don’t *have* to be dry to use, though it’s suggested that letting them “age” develops more of the alazarin. (Although as i hit “publish” on this post, i note they have been drying now for 32 days, admittedly a far cry from drying for a year πŸ™‚ ) I won’t be trying to grow it again as our new garden space is too tiny to heel anything in, and seriously, the “return” on all the effort was not worth the effort… If i ever win the lottery, and have my big space in the country and a proper greenhouse, well, then we’ll revisit that.

Most of the Indigo suffruticosa seeds i planted did pop up. I lost a couple to drying out, because of the winds we’ve had lately, and due to the fact that Calgary is very dry at the best of times. I’m not assuming these will get as big as they grow in Texas at Deb’s though (SHE”S HARVESTING ALREADY!), because we have a shorter growing season, much cooler nights (due to our altitude) and so far this season not a lot of heat….. They did manage to get through 3 hail storms unscathed, probably because they are so tiny! I’m going to cloche them for awhile, trying to keep some heat in, and hopefully they will get big enough that i can get something. I still have a very tiny harvest from my first indigo Persicaria tinctoria attempts at the old house–a handful stored dry since 2015! (Edit: Even cloching these babies didn’t do much though they did double in size in a week. Still pretty teeny! And i don’t know if a bug/virus got them, or it’s the cold weather, but they are all spotted.)

I’ve decided in future, i won’t be sharing much about the actual process of natural dyeing, just the results. I get a fair number of hits on my “how to/how i did it” posts, but since 99.9% of readers don’t acknowledge even with a simple “thank you”, it seems rather pointless. (I’m sure it also bores the hell out of my readers that don’t care about that part of the process.) I seriously think schools have done a poor job teaching anyone HOW to research correctly, but i ain’t getting into that. All i can say is “just because it’s on the internet, or “popular”, doesn’t make it true”.

OOO OOO OOO

This bodes well. I bought Indigo suffruticosa seeds from the vaunted Deb McClintock in Texas, and soaking the seeds yielded what is usually the beginning colour of an actual indigo vat!

 

Of course, i don’t know if this is actually “normal”, and i don’t know how many will germinate or what success i will actually have at the end of the season, but WHOO HOO anyways πŸ™‚

In Texas, Deb gets these to SEVEN feet tall, where they are also more of a perennial. Mine will certainly not reach that height, and our growing season is shorter, with cooler nights, but i’ma gonna baby these babies as much as i can. Whatever i can harvest is a bonus. I may have to store dried until next year when i have enough, but that’s worth the wait as well. Natural dyeing can be a long slow process, but that’s what it IS all about. I did grow indigo one year in a pot at the old house, but hail and an early frost got it when it was barely 3 feet tall and rather sparse. I still have the dried leaves though!

Hoofies crossed!

EDIT May 20—-15 of the 24 planted have sprouted–WHOOOOOOOOHOO!!!

in soft fields

Coming, coming, coming, soon i promise! Still fondling and sorting these silk velvets, trying to decide what colours should go together! Tell anyone who says “natural dyes are boring old browny beige blahs” that they are SO wrong I hope to get packs in the shop by Friday evening, and yes, these will be included in the current sale. There may even be some scrap packs of these! SEVEN PACKS NOW LISTEDΒ Β  SOLD OUT

a natural moon

I’ve been slowly (and not so diligently, as other pursuits in the studio have “interfered”) working on this indigo moon, using my newly dyed naturally dyed threads. This is a lesson in itself, as the indigo i’m working on is strong enough to overshadow certain colours, necessitating some more neutral backgrounds for future plans/use.

 

The moon is worked with cotton, silk, silk/wool blend and wool threads in cochineal, osage, logwood, and privet berries, with the brown of the seeds coming from potassium permanganate (actually an inorganic compound). I found a walnut bath i had stored several years ago, when i was setting up in the basement, and shall test to see if it’s still “live”, for some of my browns in future, though i do love all the permutations the PP gave on the skein of cotton. On the background surround, in cotton, silk, wool and silk/wool, the colours i used are privet berry, cochineal, brazilwood, rhubarb root, hollyhock (and that’s where the “oh-oh” happened, as some of the colours are so soft, they are barely discernible), osage, logwood, and sandalwood. Using pre-mordanting (VERY important), and post modifying methods, changes the colours to a wide range. (Ha, just realized i used none of the wonderful madder results!)

I have two other moons still in the finishing stages, and hope to get them done soon too! All will be in the shop.