I am slowly slowly getting my garden becoming more of a thing. The dahlias, cosmos and zinnias from Summer’s garden are still blooming quite abundantly, but it’s all looking a little overgrown and end-of-season-ish. A couple of weeks ago, we made a new garden bed, and I planted out the indigo and woad. As well as some other things that needed to from pots to the ground.Read more
Every year we try to plant a garden, of some sort or other. Some years we’ve had flourishing garden, picking veges and flowers, other years barely anything at all. Some years it’s determined by the floods or the lack of water. I’ve done a lot of hand watering, carrying buckets from the creek to the garden over the yearsRead more
Every morning my husband gets up early, before 5am, which is dark during these Winter days. He makes sure the fire is still burning, or he starts it again, so that when we get up later the house is warm and cosy. This is what he does almost every morning, for us - his family. He also likes the quiet time in the house, all on his own.
He makes me coffee every morning, and wakes the kids up. He mostly makes breakfast for River, and sometimes the big two if they're communicative about what they actually want (sigh - teenagers / pre-teens!). All five of us somehow each morning manage to get everyone ready and out the door, lunches made, bags packed, dramas and lost notes and unbrushed hair, and unwashed faces. Mostly almost on time every day.
Sam does the school drop off. Every day, while I've been writing my book, he gathers the kids into the car and takes them to town. Monday and Tuesday are preschool days, so he drops River off too. Some days he'll check the post, go for a skateboard at the park, visit the hardware, or the healthfood shop, or the op-shop, or library, or get some more milk for our elevenses coffee.
Then he heads home (it's a 20 minute drive from our house into town). It's lucky he likes driving, because he does the trip into town often two times every day, for drop-off and pick-up.
When he came home today, me writing the final words on my book, pushing to get it sent before tomorrow's deadline, he cleaned the breakfast and lunch making stuff. He washed up - the epic mess from yesterday's meals (six people in one rainy day create a LOT of washing up). Then he made the coffee, which I drank while still writing. He drank while sitting down for a moment.
Before he left, to get the kids again, he brought me tea, and spilt extra firewood. I'm here writing a newsletter, and blog posts, and checking my emails to see if my editor has received my words yet (of course not because I live in Australia and she lives in UK, which means she's still asleep, or only just waking up right now... having her morning coffee).
Sam will take the big kids to drama class, he'll take the small kid to feed him (pre-school is hungry work for a three-year-old), and then do the shopping, visit the library, deal with a tired child, and the time frame of a kids' drama class, before he has to come home again.
Meanwhile, here I am... writing words, wondering about how to continue generating an income, tending the fire, and pondering my second cup of tea, perhaps a spot of sitting on the couch with some stitch work; my fearless quilt.
I ponder again and again life - the usefulness we each have, for our family, our community, what we give and what we get. Do we remember to say thank you, to look at someone when they bring us tea, or run up our goods at the supermarket, or re-new our overdue books at the library, or fill our car at the petrol station (yep, we have one of those local petrol stations in our town - amongst about 4 others that don't), or teach our kids be it in school or after school. The way that what we contribute has nothing to do with money, in a family or a community or society, or the world. What we contribute is more than that, bigger than that, outside of any financial countings.
And yes - there I said it. I sent my words to my editor today. 20,000 words. It will be some time before it becomes a book. This is the first edit, so I'm sure there'll be rewrites and such necessary. But there.... I'm on the way to becoming an author!
Do you want to learn how to make the most beautiful colours on fabric, using gathered garden treasures? Here I've got a simple, yet ever so magical, tutorial so you can create your own. I love the whole process of this project, from the quiet joy of gathering your supplies through to the patience of waiting of it to 'cook' and be ready, through to the marvel of opening up the treasure that you've created.
Each time you dye in this special manner, you get different results, depending on the flowers, leaves and seedpods, and even the fabric that you use. To me, that's a big part of the whole natural & botanical dye process. I don't want things repeated exactly the same, but love the nuances that come out of working with nature, with variations of technique and the simple alchemy of cooking.
You can learn all about this in my online ecourse about Natural & Botanical Dyeing, but here's a little how-to for you, if you want to make your own this weekend:
Some fabric - silk or wool works best, but cotton is good too, something not too heavy or too sheer. You can use small pieces or one large piece, it doesn't matter at all
Flowers, petals, leaves, bark, seedpods gathered from the garden or nearby fields*
Kitchen scraps such as onion skins (brown and red), coffee or tea left overs, passionate fruit skins, avocado skins and seeds (I'll share a full tutorial for this alone soon).
String and scissors
An old saucepan - it's best to use one that you won't be using for cooking again. A second hand one from an op-shop is fine - stainless steel or aluminium.
Here's what you do:
Gather your supplies from the garden. This can be a beautiful way to get kids outside exploring and enjoying the sunshine, and noticing the beauty all around them.
Lay out your fabric and arrange your petals, leaves, bark, onion skins, etc in a pretty pattern. Don't be too worried about the pattern as things shift a little when you roll it up, but what we're hoping will happen is colour and prints (leafy marks) will transfer to the fabric, so keep this in mind when you're arranging. This is a mediation in itself - don't rush this part. (see photos). Don't overfill the fabric, leaves space.
Roll and bundle your fabric as tightly as you can. If you have one large piece you could fold it in half, then roll it up. I've had people aliken this technique to trussing meat, but being a vegetarian I don't know about that. If you roll the fabric into a log-shape as tightly as you possibly can, then you should be good.
Take the string and tie it, super tightly, around your bundle. I've included a few photos to show you the different tying options possible. The string needs to pull the fabric even tighter, because this is the way you'll get contact prints with the leaves. The string will make a mark on your fabric too, which I think is one of my favourite parts of the result.
Put your bundle into the saucepan and cover with regular water **, add in about a cap or two of vinegar and put the lid on. Allow the whole piece to gently simmer for a couple of hours, keep making sure the water is covering your fabric - top it up if necessary. Three or so hours of simmering should be enough, turn the heat off and leave it (lid on) overnight to stew in it's own juices.
The next morning you can unwrap the present you've made yourself. Don't wash straight away, but allow to dry in the shade (the pieces of leafery and petaly loveliness will fall off as it dries, so don't worry too much as picking it off). Once your fabric is fully dry you can gently wash under the tap; I don't use any soap, but you can use a ph-neutral soap if you'd like. You may find some colour runs off, so wash until the water runs clear, then line dry in the shade again. (Why do I dry, then wash? Because I find that the longer before I wash off the colour the more chance it has of embedding itself into the fabric, as it dried rather than washing it all away straight away).
+ The vinegar acts as a mordant (which helps to bind the dye colour to the fabric), but it's also a ph-colour changer, which means it will shift / alter some things in your dye pot. This is totally ok, and very wonderful, but just something to keep in mind. You can do this without vinegar, but you'll need to either be happy with the fact that some flowers might fade quicker, or know a little more about mordants. Adding some rusty nails / metal to your dye bundle helps a little too, as do other certain plants (barks contain tannins that act as mordant, as does avocado seeds).
+ The fabric in the top picture was bundle dyed in a pot of coloured dye water - so the parts that would have been white got dyed pink. Do achieve this you could add avocado seeds to your cooking pot, and you'll get some pink, apricot, brown-ish hues. NOTE: do not boil the avocado seed dye pot, as this will turn it brown.
If you want to know more, or delve deeper into Natural & Botanical Dyeing I have an online video course available here, or a downloadable Kids Dyeing booklet. And make sure you read my Natural Dye journal posts, which shares more tutorials and how tos, as well as notes from my dyeing.
there's no map of me.
I'm unexplored, undiscovered.
I'm foreign, lost to those who fear the unknown or the wrong way, the difficult path.
I'm hard. I'm challenging.
But I won't alter or sway or bend.
Just so someone can reach me.
You have to want to try to know me.
And be prepared for hardness.
There's beauty, but there's harsh & wild as well.
If you can't be with the wild, or cope with the harsh,
you lose the beauty.
The whole soul.
- "From Blossoms" by Li-Young LeeFrom blossoms comesthis brown paper bag of peacheswe bought from the boyat the bend in the road where we turned towardsigns painted Peaches.From laden boughs, from hands,from sweet fellowship in the bins,comes nectar at the roadside, succulentpeaches we devour, dusty skin and all,comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.O, to take what we love inside,to carry within us an orchard, to eatnot only the skin, but the shade,not only the sugar, but the days, to holdthe fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite intothe round jubilance of peach.There are days we liveas if death were nowherein the background; from joyto joy to joy, from wing to wing,from blossom to blossom toimpossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Loving circus class - back bends are your absolute favourite
Wearing funky colour / print clash clothing combinations
Reading stories to yourself every day - chapter books. You lie on your bed with your legs kicking about while you read and read.
Doing cute little styles in your hair. It's still short, but you can do two sweet little piggy tails on the side.
Constantly making and creating something or other.
Continuing drawing your Foxy stories. Wow - your drawings are getting so so amazing!
Climbing into bed in the morning and playing games with daddy, giggling and tickling.
We've been having some glorious days lately, as well as some rain and cloudy days. But I'm taking notice of the Winter sunshine warming my body and soul, and also tricking a lot of flowers into early bloom. Our peach blossoms are already in full flourish, and their leaves have some on too. Generally the leaves don't come back - with their iridescent green showyness - until some time closer to Spring.
The mulberry tree down the road already has tiny little fruits starting to grow. It was full Summer last year when we were enjoying their deliciousness - it was dyeing our hands, feet, mouths brightest purple. And while I can't wait to start dyeing fabric and yarn with those little bubbles of colour, I also don't want to rush the Summer heat too soon.
Living where we do, we always have some flowers in bloom over Winter. Our garden is bare and barren, or snow covered like other Winter's across the globe. Nope, the sub-tropics are pretty decent places for Winter. Yet still, to see this early-Spring happening at barely the middle of Winter, means that Summer will be here before we know it. I have a horrible feeling that Spring will pass us by all too quickly and be swallowed up by Summer. And based on the past two years - it'll be wet and hot and steamy. Oh fun.
So right now, I'm enjoying these Winter (ish) days, and the feeling of Spring in the air. The days are still short, which means we chase the sun across our yard and I aim for my afternoon cup of tea to coincide with the golden hour before setting sun. (It tricked me today, as the shift in earth meant a different tall tree shaded the final sunbeams and I lost the light earlier than anticipated. Ah those tall trees that block my final cup of tea in the sunshine!!!).
I hope you had a lovely weekend. In the sunshine reading
eating with avo on toast, or hanging washing on the line, or maybe you were giggling in some snow, like