What would grandma say?


Most domestic functions I learned from my grandmother who stayed home with me
while mom worked.  A single parent, mom struggled out in the corporate world
and I swear, if it wasn't for her sense of humor
I'm not sure how it all would have turned out.
I fall back on humor as an antidote to this day while the skills I picked up from grandma
had a somewhat more practical use [not that humor isn't practical, of course].
Mom couldn't even sew a button or hem a skirt,
but she wrote shorthand faster than the wind.
Grandma could darn socks, crochet lace edges on pillowcases and rewire a toaster,
yet you'd never find her leading a meeting or typing legal documents.

Interestingly enough,
of all the skills I remember about my grandma, I don't recall that she ever canned food.
Sort of odd, considering she concocted the most delicious candy from scratch
and baked up a storm ...

I've often joked that I'm the last American woman of my *certain age* to remain
unknowledgeable in the arts of canning.  Somehow this particular practice escaped me.
Or perhaps I took off running

because I thought it was too much like chemistry!
Which I failed in school, by the way.

So it's not surprising that it's taken a simple, straightforward presentation of the subject
 to, at last, venture forward ...

Meet Bubbies, Classico and Mezzetta,
charming chaps who are my first foray into the   easy   art of canning.
Thanks be to India Flint, who has successfully
nudged me into one of my last remaining domestic unknowns.

Still, you may notice that the following recipes do not adhere to,
shall we say,
what you might expect from a "food" pantry
but are preserves of a very different kind ...

Bubbie's recipe:
* toss some iron bolts into the bottom of a jar
* bundle frozen black [dark purple] violas, madrone bark
and 4 rusty landscape pegs into a scrap of pre-wet
old linen shirt
* stuff madrone bark peelings around the edges
* sprinkle with aprox. 1 heaping teaspoon of fireplace ash
* fill with water; let sit, then top off to within 1/2 inch of lid
* close lid tightly

Classico recipe:
* bundle dry purple Norway leaves and metal bits inside pre-wet scrap of old cotton shirt
* repeat with cotton eyelet blouse front & stuff both into jar
* pack the edges with additional dry maple leaves
* fill jar with leftover dye bath from lobster mushrooms; let sit, then top off to within 1/2 inch of lid
* close lid tightly

Mezzetta recipe:
* Add 1/4 cup of year-old copper/vinegar mordant to jar
* bundle rose leaves & metal bolts inside of pre-wet 60/40 cotton/silk blouse
[note: rose leaves were frozen/defrosted/re-frozen before use]
* stuff remaining rose leaves around bundle
* fill with water; let sit, then top off to within 1/2 inch of lid

The rest of the process can be found in this little treasure of a book,
and for those who might ask,
I did not pre-mordant any of the cloth.

Now, to wait.
I may wait as long as six months before opening the first jar ...
textile archeology was not made in a day, as they say.
In the meantime, India has set up a virtual pantry OVER HERE.
You may wish to peek at all the interesting stuff accumulating on the shelves.

One of the plaques on the 4-H shelf above reads,
"Keep canning and canning will keep you."
Why yes, I think it just might ...


  1. Ha! I might have known. If grandma only knew that you would take her domestication a step further. It will be interesting to see the results.
    Love your presentation!
    xx, Carol

    1. Carol, I can just about imagine the look on my grandma's face ... pretty much the same one
      as when I'd get into some mischief around the house involving the little figurines she liked
      to collect ;>]

  2. Christi , you made a lovely story about this project , all the best for waiting half a year

    1. Was great fun to assemble the story, bodil, thank you.
      And it's getting easier to wait the more I practice waiting {wink}
      Good luck on your end, too!

  3. What a great idea! My mother canned (food rather than fabric) and I remember all the jars lined up in the cupboard. Even though we lived in Southern California those canned goodies sat on the shelf until winter (like we even had a winter) before we opened them. Of course jam and preserves were my favorites.

    1. YOU LIVED IN SO. CA? Me, too ... Oh my, Penny, we may need to email each other to compare dates & times ... ?
      And definitely, like there ever was a winter, so true. We had an Orange Julius round the corner & over a block and
      I remember slurping those down all year long.

  4. You're from SoCal?? Me too! Love your recipes...although I admit I feel defeated by the whole ecodyeing thing. I think it's my water, which doesn't read as hard, but regardless of whatever I'd put in the pot or bury in the bundles when I was doing this a few years ago, I pretty much got the same results. So I gave up, largely.
    Just want to comment on what you said about chemistry and not doing well in it in school. Same here, also for math. However, I found as I aged that I have a tremendous affinity for math and chemistry in their real-world applications ~ dyeing formulas, warp/weft measurements and the like ~ as well as a solid grasp of the relationships between numbers. So I say, never rule things out of your life because you weren't necessarily good at them in school!

    1. Nope, could just about guarantee, Connie, it is not your water ;>] I would guess two other more likely culprits: choice of vegetation and choice of fabric. So sorry you had to give up! Didn't I see some quite beautiful naturally dyed cloths on your blog? Certainly you wouldn't consider those to be failures? As for chemistry AND math, ditto, and working very hard at the not-ruling-out part ;>D

  5. I love these jars of bundles, leaves and buds ... I'll be right here for the unveiling!
    I grew up in N.Ca and we lived in and around canneries... ahh the scent of ketchup!

    1. Another Californian, BSD, how lovely! And I hope you'll have patience to wait for the reveal ... truly hoping for six months.

  6. Canning of the best kind. Thanks for the recipes! I ordered India's new book, not just one, but two copies! - Hugs Nat

    1. That is just GREAT, Nat and I'll look forward to viewing your experiments immensely.

    2. My books arrived this morning. So excited! And a second copy for gift as well!

  7. I love this post! I am getting closer and closer to diving into dyeing. Inspiring! thank you. I recently bought one of India Flint's books, just need to get into it.

    1. Dive, oh yes, do! You may wish to know tho, that you might not resurface for quite some time ...
      the results can be so captivating one can easily be waylaid from all plans & led down another path altogether.
      Thanks much for the visit, Bridgette.