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.