studio time finally, and a shop update

This past week i have said to hell with unpacking boxes, shuffling furniture around and organizing things in our new home. I finally got down into the studio and had fun!

Digging through the silk velvet scraps for the elf mentioned in a previous post, had me wondering what to do with all the dinky teeny itsy bits. If you love velvet and other luxe fabrics, you get that–no small left behind! 🙂 And when they’re naturally dyed, they are even more precious!

And yes, they DO come as PAIRS 🙂 Hmm, might be cute Christmas ornaments as well!

This weekend however, the two of us will be descending to the depths, and getting laundry appliances moved around, a laundry sink and water filter hooked up, tools settled into shelves, and the last of my studio stuff IN the studio, out of boxes, bags and piles. Once that is done, i plan on setting  myself a schedule of sorts to get work done, the serious stuff (Samara, poor Samara!), and some more fun things as well.


down in my dreams

Hues of blues and schemes of greens, silk velvet naturally dyed with osage, quebracho rojo or tansy and dipped in the magic of indigo. Leaves and deep ponds, skies and tears, oceans and mountain horizons.

“Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won’t you let me go down in my dreams…”

Listing live tomorrow.   Listed now.       SOLD OUT


The Indigo Day Dye Inspectors are bored obviously.

Biscuits were handed out.

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 LISTED   SOLD OUT

the greens of summer

Above, that’s actually a photo from 2010. “There was a gigormous patch of it by the tracks so i headed there eagerly. Just as i got to the edge of the embankment, i heard a train and caught out of the corner of my eye one of the machines they use to keep track (narf) of the rails and trespassers, coming around the corner. Guess who was trespassing actually? Guess who fortunately (?) was so startled that she fell down the embankment into a tansy forest????? They never saw me, even backing up and looking while i flattened myself out on the ground down the edge. I felt guilty and silly at the same time, elated too 🙂 I snuck the camera out of my bag in case one tromped over and asked what the hell this middle aged frazzle haired freakwoman was doing lying on her face on CPR property in the weeds. Umm, taking pictures because i’m a botany specialist? HA! Got a BIG bag of tansy after they toodled back the way they came.”

As much as i love the results i’ve got with “traditional” natural dyes (ie the ones i have to buy, like madder–still waiting till the fall to harvest mine, indigo, cutch, osage, logwood etc), i love a good walk, with the DogFaced Girl of course :), to forage what i know are proven dye plants in my area.

My last big excursion with local plants for natural dye was a couple of years ago, and the results weren’t great. I was never sure if it was because the tansy was picked from a site that had previously been a (probably) highly contaminated ground for a gas station, or if it was just a bad year for colour. This year though there’s ACRES of the darn stuff, a highly invasive plant in the neighbourhood. I decided to try again, and my first excursion yielded the picking of 3.2 kilos (7.05lbs), barely a drop in the bucket even in my immediate area! I’ll be picking more, as there’s probably 1000 times that, no exaggeration, within the 3 block radius i pick in! It can be dried, but sometimes the shades are browner or weaker. That being said, it’s a good base to overdye with other colours: indigo for the most spectacular greens, madders for warmer yellow tones, or oranges and corals, and who knows what with quebracho rojo or cutch? I’ll be testing those as well.

When the flowers are gone, picked or naturally drying/dying on the plant, i can collect the leaves for greener yellows too.

I seriously upped the WOF this year as well, using twice the amount of plant matter per weight of cloth. YUM. This is YELLOW, a cool one, unlike the warmth of osage, but i do love the various shades with different yellow plants. When foraging locally too, the likelihood is that most plants are going to give yellows or greens, but post mods and other dyes can really extend the colour range. I can’t gather enough Solidago (Goldenrod), as the varieties that grow here are really mingy stunted little varieties. Ah, i miss the Ontario ones for colour, and beauty! (Not that i knew that when i lived there, oh so many many years ago…..)


Amazing what one plant, some pre and post mods, and 1 overdye colour can do. Note: these are all silk velvet, with tests to come on cotton and silk habotai.


Moon number 12, almost done!

(Although, if i count the two Rabbit Moons, this one is number 14!)

Again, all natural dyes, threads and fabric, except for that teeeeeny bit of coppery glitz on the “stars”, a gift from Karin. Even naturals like a bit of bling once in awhile 🙂

I figure about another 4-6 hours, and “Harvest Goddess Moon” will be done.

cooking with noxious weed control

Just doing my bit to keep invasives from taking over 🙂 Tansy, oh Tansy, i love you, but you’re considered “noxious” here in Alberta. And YES, i get that invasive/non-native weeds plants can be a serious problem. I’m a Nature Girl, but the best Nature is, well, Natural, not “introduced”.

Okay, really, to me, a weed is something that grows in my garden that isn’t edible and/or pretty. I let the purslane and amaranthus go crazy, the millet seeded from the bird feeder, the bindweed in the lawn, the dandilions even. Control is maintained by mowing the Back40 often enough, but not MEGA SHORT (cause A  that’s ugly and B bad practice), so our little nasties there are never taller than 3″. We have a milkweed growing by the side fence where no other garden is, and guard it jealously, as the bees love it, as do other pollinators, and hope and pray that one day, some day we have visits from Monarch butterflies. I don’t think i’ve seen one since i was a child in mid-western Ontario, many many moons ago.

(I should finish this, from 2012…)

BUT, Tansy is really really prevalent here, so i’m ambivalent about the growth, and the destruction of it, as the city and the province would like us to do. On the fence actually, because i cut their pretty little yellow heads off so they can’t set anymore seed, BUT they also reproduce easily from a rhizomatous root. However, because they are so ubiquitous here, i feel no compunction in bringing home bags and bags and bags of decapitated Tanacetum vulgare, to throw in the dyepot fresh, and to dry for future use. The colourfastness is classified as “good””, and with proper mordanting, i don’t worry about its longevity. (Note though, the longest lasting natural yellow is Weld, an ancient–and spendy–dye. Can’t grow my own because it too is a No No here in Alberta.)

Too, yellow is the most scopic of all natural dye plants, from a multitude of sources, some light and wash fast, some not so much. It is however, if you remember your primary mixing of colour, a good base for oranges (think corals and peaches, not pumpkins 🙂 ), greens (teal! emerald!) and browns (chocolate chocolate chocolate!). The photo i showed here is the reason i picked much of this, and plan on stockpiling fibres as bases for overdyeing. I didn’t get *quite* the greens i wanted, but will keep trying.

Tansy on bamboo above overdyed (obviously) with indigo.  I’m going to try again with cotton (because i’m out of the bamboo) that took up a load of oxidized tannin, as the yellow uptake was quite strong.

There were more greens in the shibori samples below, but the indigo is now weak, and needs reviving. Ah, to find that happy balance. The tansy dyed cotton was post modifed in, top to bottom soda ash, iron and copper before the indigo dip.

I need to find a disappearing type of marker as well. Even after the “finishing” of these pieces, the pencil i used is still visible, okay for samples, but not for actual work.


And i also want to do this again!