An attempt to document my creative pursuits and spew inspiration into the universe.

An attempt to document my creative pursuits and spew inspiration into the universe.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wonderful Walnut and Natural Dyeing

I feel so lucky to be living near this venerable, old-growth Black Walnut tree.
This is a view from my dye kitchen.
She's really in her glory in the fall. Standing underneath her brilliant yellow canopy, on a lemony carpet; a breeze puffs by and hundreds of small, shimmery leaves snow down golden... Just watch out that a nut doesn't fall on your head! This year the nuts are bountiful. They give up the most gorgeous brown, tan, and beige colors. The leaves (while still green) also make a lovely brownish dye. However, I still have two five-gallon buckets of this soaking-nut ooze from past years. I'm trying to use it up, but a little goes a long way. I'll not be collecting nuts for dyeing this year. The squirrels get them all! The brown is walnut dyed over logwood and indigo. The beige is the walnut exhaust bath . These are madder berries. I've read that madder "does not reliably produce seeds", so I decided I ought to harvest these seed-containing berries while I had the chance. Each berry contains one largish seed. I'm still waiting for the madder tops to die down so I can dig the roots and use them.
These are dark red dahlia flowers, dried, that my friend saved for me over the summer. The dyebath was a deep, red, merlot color, but the wool came out a bit different than that. The dark bronze color on the left is from the dahlias. The sheen of the Romney fleece makes it look almost metallic in real life. The brilliant yellow on the right is from a fresh Dyer's Polypore Rick found in the forest near our house. I simmered the mushroom, strained it, then merely soaked the fleece in the dyebath without heat to get this color!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

footstool recovery

Ever since we finished painting and re-arranging our front room, I've been inspired to slowly create new & needed textiles to decorate the space. Most recently, I decided to re-cover this humble foot stool.
I used my favorite technique of late; randomly sewing down scraps of sweater wool to a backing fabric. I'm so in love with this process. For one, it uses tiny scraps of fabric in a most lovely way! I like the randomness of it; the freedom of just grabbing into the basket of scraps and plonking down whatever I pull out.
For the final touch, and to pull all that randomness together, I like to sew thin, meandering strips on the surface, and travel all over the surface with machine top-stitching.
Hmmm, looks like it'll fit. The back looks interesting, too.
Here I've laid it over the stool upside down, and am pinning the corners to fit. I then stitch the corners and trim off the excess fabric.
Next, I sewed a casing of knit fabric all around the bottom edge.
Thread a cord through. I used a strip of sturdy knit fabric.
Oh yes, this is fitting nicely.
Snugging up the drawstring.
Tuck in the ends.
Foot stool cozy!
I like it.
Testing out the new thing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Harvest Reds

The past few years I've really enjoyed growing these Polish Linguisa tomatoes. They're a large, pepper-shaped paste tomato. The young plants look pretty spindly and frail, and they're some of the last ones to start setting fruit, but once they get going, they're quite prolific, and continue to ripen their tomatoes up until frost. My favorite way to prepare them is to slow-roast them in a 200 deg. oven all day, until they're leathery-soft. Then I layer them in a pint jar with fresh basil leaves and olive oil, squishing them down well to get the air bubbles out, fitting in as many as I can into the jar. They keep several months in the 'fridge. The flavor is so exquisite that they're usually consumed by merely spreading them on toast. The golden tomato is an Orange Oxheart, another favorite of ours. The flesh is firm and sweet, nearly the color of a peach, with a complex, smoky flavor. This year our Orange Oxheart plant was rather sickly, and its fruits somewhat mealy and meager. Generally, though, this is a dependable, delicious tomato. I grew these three varieties of chili peppers this year.
The long, shapely ones are Cayennes. The medium-sized ones are Thai Dragons, a good standby for these parts. They always bear much fruit & ripen well. I'm not sure what type the tiny ones are; they're suuuper hot. They're about the size of my pinky fingernail, and even just one of these peppers in a dish really heats it up. The plant is smallish and covered with tiny, red peppers. I plant my chili pepper plants in pots, so I can move them around to the warmest sunny spots during the summer, and then when the weather cools, I bring them into the house or greenhouse to finish ripening.
This year I'm drying my chilies, but sometimes I pickle them in half-pint jars. This batch has five different varieties in it! Those leaves in there are mint leaves. I make a super easy and yummy hot-sauce by opening a jar of my pickled chili-peppers and whizzing the entire contents in the food processor. The result is a vinegary, thin hot pepper sauce perfect for dripping on anything that needs pepping up. I can't resist sharing this photo with you.
I took it just before sunset, after I'd finished harvesting and cleaning out the winter squash bet. Mmmm....I see many pumpkin pies in the future.... I've been wanting to introduce you to the ducks, but they're quite shy about getting their picture taken.Here they are so busy nibbling lettuce seed in the garden that they didn't notice me with the camera. The brown duck is a Khaki Campbell named Peep. The two Black Runners are Lady and Sir Ernie Longneck. I kinda' have to coerce them into the garden, but once I get them in there, they get into foraging and eating slugs. Probably their favorite garden treat is Brussels Sprouts. They like the leaves and love the sprouts. It can be quite a game, me shooing them away from the Brussels Sprouts bed, them scooting & clucking around the garden, only to return to the Brussels, me chasing them again....gotta love them quackers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Latest Slippers

Fresh Fall slippers in all their glory! Easy on-&-off! Comfy, cozy! This pair is my trial run of a pattern from a Japanese craft book called "Room Shoes". Since they are a prototype and not "fancy", I dug through my scrap bag for all the materials. As usual, the scrapped-together look is probably more interesting than if I'd designed a look using "special" fabrics. The outsides are a thick, golden wool knit originally scored at a thrift store, since made into a curtain, and for the past years riding around in my stash boxes. They're lined with a fine-wale, soft, burgundy corduroy. I used a scrap of felted blue wool blanket to line the insoles. As usual with new slippers, I love them! Since I don't read Japanese, once I traced out the pattern, I just kinda made up the sewing-together. It looks like there are some interesting/helpful techniques in the instructions, but I couldn't quite decipher them. I like how these slippers turned out, and I'll be fooling around with some other versions from this book in the future. It looks like the sewing bug's finally returned to the studio. This is becoming a comfy, cuddly, wool wrap- hoodie. Nothing like a Fall nip in the air to inspire cozy-makin's!