Sailing towards solstice


June 21st shall be here in no time and as I continue to stitch my flag
for the Solace Project
I can't help but marvel, thinking about so many hands at work just like mine around the world
also stitching with intention - attention - welcoming participation as I do
in this collective poetry project for peace.

My personal deadline for mailing to the far off way station of Andamooka, South Australia
is the first day of June.  This is to insure that should said package decide to go for
a short walkabout in the opal fields beforehand
it will still make it on time to join the party around India's indigo vat
when dipping begins.

Many souls have long since sent their flags for a timely arrival ... those I know of
have been added under the Solace project tab up in the header.
Wonderful stories surround these makings.
Spring continues her riotous dance of exuberance in my garden
but you can find me quietly at work with a needle 
under the green umbrella ...
you can't miss me, I'm the one with the collie at her feet ;>)

Till later, then ... when our flags meet under an Australian sun!


Alchemy in the pantry


It all began 423 days ago.

I gathered together these assorted fabric scraps [once all white] and without pre-mordanting,
rolled, bundled, squeezed and cajoled them into glass jars along with pieces of metal
and handfuls of vegetation.
Following the protocol within this little gem of a book,

I began a very  LONG  and interesting canning experiment ...
not only an experiment in patience [wasn't sure I could wait this long for the reveal!]
but in the science - and art - of preserving.

What would grandma say?
Go peek at what these jars looked like when I first put them on the pantry shelf
February 4, 2014 ...
over here

This is what they looked like right before I opened them two days ago.
The liquid had long since turned almost black.  They each contained iron bits 
so that made sense, but I wondered if I'd made a mistake & added too much.
Also, two of the jars had slightly rounded lid tops ...
were the contents rotting, or worse - putrefying into some gads-awful mess?

I need not have worried. And I should certainly know by now
that India speaks true words when she repeats, "Trust the process."

I flung them on the rosebushes in the hedgerow to dry.
There's often great changes between wet and dry so the short wait
to see that happen was almost worse than the entire previous year's wait.

Here they are dried and pressed.

Front & back views of 60/40 cotton/silk blouse remnant,
bundled with rose leaves & metal bolts
with 1/4 c. aged copper/vinegar modifier added to the jar.
[above on far right]

What amazes me: true spring green leaf prints, the smokey black-on-black tones
from the string marks, and that the liquid from the jar smelled faintly of rose petals.

Scraps of two cotton shirts each bundled with dry purple Norway maple leaves
and metal bits - nails & screws - with additional leaves packed around the edge of the glass.
The jar was then filled with leftover - very stinky - lobster mushroom dye bath.
[jar above in middle]

What amazes me: although the jar lid was "puffed up" there was nothing growing inside ...
no bacteria, algae etc. and the smell of lobsters had almost completely disappeared,
replaced by an earthy scent; the cuff, which took color like a sponge.

I've left my favorite jar for last ... although in my earlier post I forgot about
this linen hankie entirely because I stuffed it down the side of the jar
at the last minute as there was plenty of room left
next to the ripped up linen shirt jacket.
[jar above on left]

As for my favorite - the jacket piece - iron bolts
went into the jar bottom, then the cloth was bundled
with purple-black violas, madrone bark & 4 rusty landscape pegs.
Taking a precious cue from the book, I sprinkled a teaspoon of fireplace ash
into the mix.

What amazes me: navy blues from the violas, strong distinct graphics, heavy
saturation of color.  This is a very dense linen that was not pre-mordanted and I venture
to say with a great deal of certainty that I would not have been able to
achieve this result with a one hour boil-up and a bundle opening 3 days later ...

Alchemy in the pantry.  I am smitten.

: : :

There's a wealth of jars awaiting their openings over in India's virtual pantry ...
see everyone's experiments there
Click on 'The pantry' to view the collection.

So, WHO is next?
I'm so excited for the reveals!

Have been kicking myself that I didn't experiment with whole items of clothing
for although the wait was definitely worth it, the 'time price' we pay is quite hefty
and may as well yield more of a product than a torn sleeve & a color swatch, wouldn't you say.

Ah well.  Live & learn.  All valuable, all good.

But ... I'm off soon to find some large pickle jars!


Jade Dog's spring bead challenge


Whatever came over me, I'm not quite sure ...
participate in a bead challenge at the start of spring when the
tasks outside are too numerous to list?
oy vey.
I must be crazy.

It's just that when I saw this bead kit, I couldn't help myself
... such an organic feel, earthy tones, seed pods,
with a beautiful balance of textures that set my mind
right down a new path of inspiration.
I couldn't say no to that - that doesn't happen all that often -
is inspiration worth listening to.

Besides, I was already a big fan of Jade Dog Beads.
Cool stuff from a real swell gal.

~ 2015 Spring Bead Challenge, Kit #5 ~

Each kit has basically the same ingredients with only slight variations in color and
detailing marks on the large cab [at bottom].
The ingredients:
wood disc bead
vintage aluminum ring blank
polymer cab (50mm x 34mm)
radraksha beads
sea urchin spikes
strand of pellet beads
bag of size 8 transparent picasso finish glass seed beads

I think I should elaborate ... I won't be making jewelry.
[That ring is soon to become  not  a ring]
There may be cloth involved ... there may be embroidery.
Because there are no limitations on what we can create, ANYTHING beaded is fair game.
The only rules: we must use ALL the beads in the kit
and we must be finished by April 20th.
But we can add whatever we want to the kit stash
and  anything beaded  goes, including 3-D.
oh boy.

There are a few kits left ... anyone want to join in the challenge with me?
You can view them over on Etsy
and also find The Jade Dog on Facebook ... more info over there, too.
Darcy [the owner] is super speedy with answers if you have questions.

: : :

for those not swept up with bead madness
- or maybe even if you are -
I offer you this video rush
Isle of Skye


Madder madness


or - what  NOT  to do if you desire true red.

Dye day in the middle of winter ... what else could we expect?
We were not precise.  We did not follow protocol.
Fortune might favor prepared minds but when it came to trying this new dye source
our minds were  not  [prepared, that is] ... which actually seemed ok at the time.
Our main objective was just to play,
see what happened if we flew by the seat of our pants ...

Spelled out, to see what happened
if ... we didn't carefully weigh the correct amount of madder powder
if ... we didn't pre-mordant our cloth
if ... we didn't check the water pH
if ... we didn't use a thermometer to check dye bath temperatures while cooking.
Although the bath never did come to a boil [big no-no],
with a list like the above it's a wonder we achieved any pleasing color at all.

~ frontispiece silk blouse #1 ~

It was January
and like a pair of hooligans with only a couple of hours to spare before the pub closes,
we went about things a bit wildly, bypassing [most of] the well-published rules ...
we prepped our dye pot mainly on a couple whims, a few educated guesses
and several generous splashes of laughter.

Obviously, this was not the recipe to follow
if the color one is after is anything akin to true royal  RED.
Dyeing with madder has a rich and ancient history and although we were intrigued,
the desire to 'wing it' won out in the end.
We were short on time and long on laissez faire.

Maiwa provided useful background info over on their site:

Madder – Rubia tinctorium, Rubia cordifolia, and Morinda citrifolia is one of the oldest dyestuffs. It is frequently used to produce turkey reds, mulberry, orange-red, terra cotta, and in combination with other dyes and dyeing procedures can yield crimson, purple, rust, browns, and near black. The primary dye component is alizarin, which is found in the roots of several plants and trees. Madder is cultivated and grows wild throughout India, South East Asia, Turkey, Europe, South China, parts of Africa, Australia and Japan. 
Madder is a complex dyestuff containing over 20 individual chemical substances. 

Alizarin is the most important because it gives the famous warm Turkey red colour. But also present in this wonderful plant is munjistin, purpurin, and a multitude of yellows and browns. Madder is dyed at 
35-100% wof [weight of fabric] for a medium depth of shade.

Our first lesson of note is contained in that last line about weight of fabric:
next time, for deeper shades, we definitely need to add more madder.
[L. brought back quite a hefty bag of powder from her recent travels
so we have plenty for another go ...]

~ silk blouse #2, no iron, bundled around copper ~

So although in principle I am not adverse to toasty apricot, salmon-pink,
or something resembling a mango chutney,
I'd like to accomplish a deep luscious red

someday ...

~ silk blouse #3, iron bits inside bundle, folded like a sandwich with native madrone ~

~ concentrated color in dry-down marks ~

After-the-fact research on this dye stuff has been fascinating, while some of the
best examples of color comparison I found online were those done on wool yarn -
which, as it happens, depends heavily on the use of mordants.

~ photo credit: Brush Creek Wool Works ~

I chanced upon this comprehensive blog post,  'Madder, in Many Ways'
over at  Sea Green and Sapphire ...
some excellent photos there showing the multitude of hues & tones that can be achieved.

Since I'm most interested in dyeing silks, my road to hoe may differ somewhat
but I won't know how much until further experimentation.

The historically acclaimed light-fast and wash-fast properties of this plant dye
certainly hold much appeal.

~ Rubia tinctorum, courtesy of Wikipedia ~

Next time we'll put ourselves in a more "scientific" frame of mind
before setting out ...
and in the meantime, if anyone stopping by here has a suggestion or two to offer,
my most appreciative ears are wide open.


Moon watching


What a moon we've had developing the past few days ...
clear, star-filled nights make for contemplative viewing;
being out late with the dogs, a delight for stargazers like me.
A few days back, while it was waxing,
I posted this image on Instagram

"what night feels like towards the end of winter when spring is on the cusp
but wearing her icy mantle ..."

because although nights still call for two layers of warmth,
daytimes are for shirtsleeves and wide-brimmed hats already.
The full moon last night was glorious and I was extremely grateful for a kind winter
with very few dark days ... both in the weather, and in my mind.

I'd like to share today's "mindfulness poetry" originally posted on A Year of Being Here,
for the record - my record.  My winter of eleven winters here ... the first without seasonal angst.
Because it just might have something to do with acceptance.

: : :
Dear Ezra

I have to confess:
there are abstractions
I no longer go in fear of.

Take loneliness.
I've started calling it solitude.
It feels so new and improved now,
I can honestly say it soaks up time
better than a sponge soaks up water.

The other day I actually washed this poem with it.

Ez, let me tell you,
aging is a Laundromat,
and eventually you find yourself
watching what you spurned
and dreaded for years
spread out in widening gyres,
like sheets fluffed in the dryer.

Life is quite a bit cozier
when you let all the bugaboos-
you know- say, sadness and fear
crawl into bed with you.

Pace them with your breathing
and they fall asleep
fast as a couple of kids.

The other night we huddled together
staring at the moon
as it slid past my window:
big-bellied sail on a wet black sea.


Pleased to announce ... India Flint returns to Lopez Island


Workshop plans have been afoot for some time now
with a pre-assembled cast of characters awaiting the sewing tables and cauldrons ...
but as life does, it got in the way for two
and now there are spaces in this September's gathering,
 perhaps for you?


'the wayfinder's wander jacket'
with India Flint
September 23 ~ 25, 2015
Lopez Island, WA, USA

~ Patsy's Garden Shed Studio, Lopez Island & sweet Isla, having a wander ~

**** UPDATE 2/24 **** CLASS FULL, thank you to all who enquired!

Enjoy three days with India on lovely Lopez Island, sharing stories and stitching
a beautiful bundle-dyed hand-sewn multi-pocketed and hooded jacket
using fabrics gleaned from pre-used garments
and embellished with silk and wool scraps.
The magic of the Salish Sea, the use of scrap metals
along with a wide array of bio-regional dye sources
~ windfallen leaves, weeds, & bounty from local gardens ~
will influence the dye outcomes.

Nourishing gluten-free vegetarian lunches will be provided each day
including delicious soups made by India ...
who is a deft & creative hand around a kitchen cauldron as well ! 

For all the particulars, or to answer any questions,
please send a private message via this email link:
Christi's  EMAIL 
[please, serious enquiries only]

Note:  This is a  rural   location involving multiple
[sometimes complicated]
means of transport.
~  think slow  ~

❖ to read about India's workshop on Lopez in 2013 click here  ❖
website  ❖  indiaflint.com


Back from the hairdresser


A few weeks ago I wrote  this post  about yearning for a fresh *new* look for this blog,
but never did I imagine ending up with a complete and total makeover ...
haircut, styling, manicure, facial, makeup ... the whole kit & caboodle.

Early on, after trying to tweak and twist and colorize a new template into 
anything that might resemble the word appealing, I realized 
I was just no good at blog design at all and there was no handbook available to help me - 
at least, not one I could decipher.

Sometimes it can be very good to speak up online ...

After apologizing for the mess I was making and confessing my angst
in the Comments section of  this post,  in came an incredibly kind and generous response:
"Extending my hand ... should you wish to take it. xo"

Enter miz Jen
~ photographer unknown, 1940s beauty school lesson ~

who, as it turns out, is a very skilled & excellent teacher in all things web-based.
We "met" years ago in an online photography course but I have only known her
 as an artist and had no idea the extent of her  other skills
as a former Web Design and Marketing maestro.

Well, I grabbed onto that hand and held on tight through this entire wild ride !

~ photographer unknown, hairdryer from the 1920s ~

It's really her fault that I became totally  undone  re-done for she encouraged me
to take a peek at the freebie templates available for Blogger these days ...
just to get design ideas ... and oh my, what a slippery slope was that.
She did warn me that it was gonna make my head spin ...

~ photo by JUCO for Fashion Rogue ~

I saw lots of styles that just weren't me.
And I had lots of separation anxiety about leaving my old, comfy blog space.
My new spot needed to feel welcoming, kinda relaxed ...

~ photographer unknown, open-air beauty salon, Cannes, France 1958 ~

but not too far out there.

~ outdoor hairdressing, Finchley Road, London 1961, photographer unknown ~

Most of all, I wanted it to remain welcoming for all my special friends.

~ boy & dachshund 1920, photographer unknown ~

Never in a million years would I have imagined a day coming when html 
no longer felt like an insurmountable foreign language.
It has been worth the headaches.

I sure hope all of you will feel it was worth the wait.
Heartfelt thanks for your patience and all the feedback you left earlier
as a guide.

Please explore a bit.  Old stuff is in new places.  There are pages up top 
containing a whole bunch of links & swell places to visit ...
my blogroll has moved up there, along with a direct link to my Instagram gallery.

As always, I'd love to hear from you in Comments.

~ Ladies at the Hairdressers, photo by Philip Townsend, London 1960s ~

To my awesomely patient, clear, concise, helpful & fabulous hand-holding teacher ...
Jen,  CHEERS to you, gal.
Couldn't have done it without ya.