Journal

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 7, Black Cherry

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 7, Black Cherry

And then I came to the trees. Dyeing with weeds and plants from around the farm is one thing, but dyeing with tree leaves and bark feels entirely next level. I’ll show you why. Above is the sample set I got from wild black cherry leaves with my usual process, which is: Simmer the dyestuff for an hour, strain it out and put the soaked fabric and fiber in, then simmer for another hour. Put one cotton swatch into some dyebath with some soda in it and one into a bath with some lemon juice or vinegar in it. Rinse...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 6, Jewels of Opar

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 6, Jewels of Opar

Once I planted Jewels of Opar for my grocery store bouquets. Just once. I haven’t planted it in probably five years, and it just keeps coming back, straight up through the peony beds I planted on top of it, every year. The original seeds were a little on the expensive side, and I thought maybe it was something special. And it is pretty, in a fluttery way. But holy Hannah, does it keep coming back.  It’s related to purslane, and you can eat the leaves of both. Which is great, honestly, because hot-weather greens aren’t much of a thing in...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 5, Curly Dock

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 5, Curly Dock

Suddenly everything growing on my property is a candidate for the dyepot. What was just weeds before is possibility now. How many of these weeds have I pulled out and thrown aside, and had no reason to know their name or check what people have used them for? Heaps. My knowledge of weeds has up till now been limited to the best method to pull them; this one has a brittle tap root, pull slowly, that one is all fibrous roots, use a side-to-side motion to get them all.  But if I’d like to know whether there’s any information out...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 4, False Dandelion

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 4, False Dandelion

First of all, who decides which plant is true and which is false? Dandelion is the real thing and false dandelion is only pretending? Hmph.  Ok, got that off my chest. These guys grow in huge drifts all over the parts of my farm that are trying to be lawn, between mowings. They’re not like the little dandelions that get 6-8” tall, these are usually knee high when they bloom on their wiry stems. They bloom in the morning only. I can look out and see them waving in the sunshine before noon, but after that, every one of them...

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Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 3, Avocado Pits

Posted by Erin Howe on

Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 3, Avocado Pits

Once, what seems a lifetime ago now, I lived on what had been a hillside avocado farm. There were avocado trees everywhere in various stages of dying, some of which I was able to save and baby along by watering them with priceless southern California city water. We had a basket on the windowsill that just kept avocados ripening all during avocado season. What a strange thing to imagine now. Last year I took up quilting, and as soon as I realized how small a scrap of fabric could still be used, the number of good quilting scraps I’ve thrown...

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