Sunday, July 31, 2011

red sky at night

We had quite a storm move through here; complete with a tornado warning and funnel cloud, but the red sky tells me that tomorrow will bring better weather. 

"red sky in morning, sailor's warning
red sky at night, sailor's delight"

Wishing you all a delightful day.


Friday, July 29, 2011

bubble hands - felting with kids

I did a little felt-making with the kids yesterday.  The weather was hot and still and it seemed a good excuse to break out the bubbles and water.

The mighty 6 year old laid out his wool roving on a plastic bag I had cut open and placed on a bamboo mat that I picked up at the dollar store.  I had drilled some holes in the cap of a 2-liter bottle to act as a sprinkler and he used this to wet the piece.  This particular step was his favorite and was not confined to just the work in progress.  The dog, the toes, and the momma were all fair game with the sprinkler.

We added a couple of drops of soap and patted the wool for a bit to get it to start felting.  We then covered the scene with the flap of plastic bag, rolled up the mat securing it with rubberbands and rolled...

...and rolled...

...and rolled.  Bubble hands.

We occasionally unrolled the mat to turn the piece in different directions so it felted evenly, then opened it up and rubbed some more.

And here we have it, a tree in summer with dandelions, and best of all a boy who wants to make more felt.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

dyeing with flower petals

Our oriental lilies have been in full and fragrant bloom for the past few weeks.  Blooms are just now starting to wither and drop and I thought I'd try using them for dyeing.

I placed the petals in an enameled pot with a little bit of water and simmered them for about an hour until eventually the water took on a lovely rose color.  I added my wool, some cotton floss, and a bit of vintage lace that I had mordanted with alum and let them steep for a few hours on low heat.  I was excited about the color that the wool seemed to be taking up but then when I removed it from the pot...this.

The wool is a pale grey with a slightly violet tint and the cotton floss picked up a very slight pink hue. 

Not exactly exciting stuff.
So I tried something else.  I ground up two iron tablets and put them in the dye bath and added new wool and cotton floss.  The addition of the iron turned the rose color to a dark aubergine color.  After steeping overnight this is what we have.

Here's the two side by side.

Yeah, not exactly my most wow-inducing experiment.  I'm saving the dye and will try again on silk, just for grins.

A few weeks ago I picked an assortment of petals and plants from the yard for dyeing and it's been steeping on my windowsill since.  I have some marigolds in there, lily petals, assorted yellow weeds, and some Virginia Creeper which is supposed to make a peach color.  I figured I'd end up with a tan color because of the mix of colors I had chosen.  I didn't have any alum when I put this batch of flowers on simmer so I added salt instead.  I poured the whole mess into the jar with the fiber and set it on my windowsill.  The color, as predicted, slowly turned a pale brown color.

Pale brown is fine but since I now had alum on hand I figured I'd pour this melange back into the dyepot and add some alum just to see what I got. (because I'm precise like that)  This is what I ended up with...

... a natural yellow color that I really like.  It's more subtle than the parsley-dyed yellow I've gotten, but more  yellow than onion skins.  I'm guessing the marigolds were the strong flowers in this bunch.
I love the experimentation aspect of natural dyeing even when they're not wildly successful, and I'm glad I made a little time for it, I hadn't realized how much I missed doing it.  I'm sure you'll be seeing some of these colors in my work very soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Yesterday's shop update went swimmingly.  Can I just say a big thank you to all of you who purchased from me, who took a minute to have a look, who mentioned it to your friends?  Thank you!  All of my new work sold really quickly and I was really moved.  A little verklempt even. (tawk amongst yourselves)

For those of you who wanted to get some pieces but didn't, I'm hoping to have another shop update soon, which I'll announce to make sure you have plenty of notice to get your clicking fingers ready. 

Today will be a busy one so I've fortified myself with what may be the best omelet since the dawn of man.  Home-grown oyster mushrooms and onion, the last of the day-lily buds, and local goat's cheese with sun-dried tomatoes.  Washed down with a cup of fresh-picked chamomile tea.  Drunk from my favorite armadillo cup, naturally.
I feel ready tackle the world. 

Tomorrow I'll show you what the hens are talking about.  I hope you'll stop back.

Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, July 22, 2011

new wool landscape brooches

I've been working on just a few new brooches lately and wanted to give you a peek.  These are all small needlefelted wool scenes fitted into bases that I make by hand.

I was really liking how the cracks in this stump lined up with the leafless trees in this nighttime scene.  This one has a teardrop shaped base made from an oak limb I brought in from the woods.  I think with all this heat we've been having I was subconsciously seeking those leafless winter nights in the woods.

A golden field against a clear blue sky.

I've shared this piece previously in a Wordless Wednesday post.  This one has been fitted into a piece of antler that I cut and drilled and it is, to date, the smallest landscape scene I've made.  I think it may also be one of my favorites.

Making these little scenes allows me to daydream about peaceful places I've been and places I'd like to see.  I sometimes think of them of as little postcards saying "wish you were here". 

These will be in my shop on Monday at noon CST.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

textural wool stones

Here's a sneak peek at some of the felted stones I've been working on lately.  Each has just a few stitches to suggest growth.  Mosses, fungi, lichens...they all fascinate me and making these little pieces was sort of meditative.  As I held each in my hand, deciding what kind of marks I'd leave on them, I was thinking of some of those amazing and unexpected details nature imparts on stones, bark, and the underside of leaves.  She really is an amazing artist, that mother nature. 

Each of these contains a rock that I have picked up along shorelines and walks in the woods here in Minnesota that I have wrapped in wool and felted.  I love the weight of the stones in my hand and the added texture of the stitches make them even more interesting to hold.  They aren't fussy and don't mind being touched, carried around, or even hauled out in the woods to have their photos taken.

Of course they'd be just as happy tucked on a bookshelf or sitting on your desk too.

You will be able to find these, and a few new brooches that I'll show you soon, in my shop next Monday July 25 at noon CST. 

I'd love it if you'd stop by and have a look.
Have a great day, everyone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a side of daylilies please

The ubiquitous orange daylily.  Seen in almost every farm house's yard where I grew up.  They lined the old railroad tracks where I played as a kid; we called them tiger lilies though I don't know why and stomped over them on our quest for black caps.  They seemed to be everywhere except my own back yard.  That is, until this year. 

After discovering last summer through Hank Shaw's blog that these common daylilies are edible, I had to give them a try.  I found a patch of plants and cooked up a few buds and tubers and declared them delicious.  Color me surprised!  I figured they'd make a fine addition to our summer menu so I begged a patch of them off of my in-laws to plant in my own yard.  They were more than happy to let me dig up a load of them because as anyone who has these knows, they grow (and spread) like weeds.

Our lily patch is pretty small this year but we've been able to get a few harvests of buds so far.  In a year or two I should have enough that I can start thinning them out and then I'll be able to harvest the root tubers, which taste like fingerling potatoes.  For now we're enjoying our buds sauteed in butter with a little salt. 
Oh yum.
For me they taste a bit like a cross between a green bean and asparagus.  Cooked just briefly they have a nice texture too.  Seriously, did I mention, oh yum?

I recently read that you can pickle the buds, and I suppose they'd be good deep fried, (because like, what isn't?), or tossed in stir fry.  The whole plant is edible actually and I've already promised to deep fry the flowers for my son who loves, and has been deprived of this year, squash blossoms. 

I love having useful plants in the yard.  How about you?

per the Peterson Field Guide - Edible Wild Plants:
On identifying the edible day-lily "Note the unspotted tawny blossoms (open 1 day only) facing upward from the top of a leafless flowerstalk.  Basal leaves light green, long, swordlike.  Root a tangle of small elongated tubers." 

Monday, July 18, 2011


Our search for sunshine this weekend led us north to Duluth where we visited the fish in the aquarium and walked around the zoo.  My boy, who becomes a teenager today, wanted to try out my camera and snapped a lot of really great photos.  In honor of his birthday, here are a few images as seen by big R.

a bear butt! (kids, I tell ya)

You did a great job, my boy.  Happy Birthday!


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