Remember when….A Wordless Wednesday.


Common sense and good nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult”
– William Somerset Maugham

Sophie, you are not a duck...

Sophie, you are not a duck…

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

dogs,chickens, and llammas oh my 5

Andy today

remember when...

a song

remembering

lovins

duo

Breez

girls

jenni .3

Andys

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.”
– Robert Frost, Two Roads

Be Well,
Jess

Finding Nemo…


Well, he never found us. He found every town around us…but not us. Funny how nature works, isn’t it. I was a little excited for the storm to arrive.

snowy morning in December 024

A big storm ~ one that needs preparation. Flash lights, kerosene lamps, water; you know provisions.
The type of storms that forces card games,board games, and allows for guilt free lazing about.

2013 snow 2

I filled the barns with a heavy bed of fluffy hay; filled waters to the tippy top (if the power goes out, so goes the pump), grained with copious amounts to help the animals generate their own warmth.

2013 snowy farm
(a farm on my morning journey)

The chickens and ducks tucked themselves in among the llamas. Everyone was settled in; cozy and warm.

2013 snow 4

And we waited for Nemo.

and we waited….

2013 snow cornfield

and waited…

We got about 3″…

2013 snowwolf cloud

Many parts of New England and New York were not spared; I do hope everyone was able to be somewhere safe and warm.

Be well,
Jessica

Are you and Alchemist?


Well, never-mind; you don’t need to be. It is all quite simple once you know the basics…we MUST know the basics.

Let’s talk mordants (just for a moment). Mordants are what I call binders..sort of like an egg in baking (right?) it holds the whole wretched mess together… a cohesive whole…if you will. If care is not taken to do this correctly…precious fibers/yarn could be ruined – or your barn, studio, garage…an explosive ending is not what we are after here.

Most dyes require a mordant; the mordant allows them to chemically bond to the fiber. Without them,the dye would simply sit on top of the fiber, rinsing off with each wash. The mordant chemically prepares and opens up the fiber to bond with the dye.

If you’re going to take the time to learn the basics of natural dying; be aware – this is not a quick project. Don’t rush, take your time (dare I say, enjoy the process) Don’t skip steps, as tempting as this may be, we are after quality results here…when the basics are conquered, results become more predictable, and the final results; well worth your efforts.

This is not a process to be shared with children, (there are kool-aid dyes for that) oh, and they are fun too; just be sure to use the kool-aid packet with out sugar.(no need to attract unwanted guests to the party..insects)

madder-sage- Photo from [Fleece on the duck]
The green shade was achieved by simmering sage with red basil. The liquid in the pot was purplish-red yet produced a khaki colored fiber. When lime juice was added the fiber brightened and became a soft sage green.

Take care not to breaht in the mordants whilst adding them to your pots…and for heaven’s sake; don’t directly breathe in the steam as it is processes. A little common sense goes a long way; so, gather your gloves, and find a mask some where. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

a llama run to CT

Toxicity vs. amount used = low ratio – for a pound of fiber, you’re going to want to dilute around only 1/2 an OUNCE of mordant (with the exception of alum, which you’re going to need around 1-2 ounces. (although, Alum isn’t toxic ) Once the mordant bath is used up or weakened, it is pretty harmless.

A list of commonly used mordants ( not exhaustive by any means):

Alum (Aluminum Potassium Sulfate): Pretty much, alum is the easiest to find and use, it is less toxic, and it gives what we will call the “base” color. It doesn’t change the base color of your fiber. You can find alum, made by McCormick, in the canning or spice section at most grocery stores.
THis is a good option if you are dyeing by solar power.
You want to dissolve your alum in lots of hot water, put it in your chosen vessel (pot,enamel is best), crock-pot, whatever, place your fiber in the pot*, simple- dimple.

Copper (Copper Sulfate): Copper will turn your fiber a light aqua-to-greenish color. That could be fun. It can be used with yellows to get soft greens, to make blues and greens more turquoise, and to make warm tones.

Iron (Ferrous Sulfate): Ehhhhh, some people class this as a “color modifier” not a true mordant. Makes stuff greyer/darker. Used with indigo or logwood, or even sometimes walnut, to get black. Known in medieval dyeing recipes as “copperas”, SO DON’T ASSUME COPPERAS MEANS COPPER. You can pre-mordant with this like you normally would, but a lot of folks just use it after dyeing to grey it up. Used alone, iron will darken your fiber. I don’t ever use it by itself as a pre-mordant. I only use it with something else, or afterwards to modify.

And some less common, but still widely used ones are:

Chrome (Potassium Dichromate): *TOXIC* I don’t use it; but some dyers love the effects it can cause…(color me chicken)

Tin (Stannous Chloride): Brightens colors. Tin does not change the base color of your fiber. Tin will give you the brightest, clearest reds/yellows/oranges, and can be used with cochineal to give hot pink. It’s my most favoritest mordant ever because I like the bright shinies, and it turns the mordant bath opalescent. Oooooohhhhh, pretty.

a shiny sheep

HOW TO MORDANT

ALWAYS! ALWAYS! – have dedicated mordanting pots. NEVER EVER USE them for cooking after! Nod, that you understand. Might I also recommend that you work outside. Most of the natural dyes, I’m not terribly concerned about allowing in my home, many of them are herbs and spices that we already have in our home. I will not allow mordant in the house.

The basic method is this:

Dissolve your mordant in a pot of warm water(think room temperature), LOTS of water, you need to let your fiber have plenty of space to move around, or the mordant can’t attach everywhere, Use a non-reactive pot—enamel, no chips please, or stainless steel. Keep in mind metals are mordants, so using a cast iron, copper, aluminum will alter your results…you understand the dilemma. Now, set it on the burner,( I have a burner on the side of my gas grill, but they do sell propane burners) and add (presoaked, wet)fiber. Turn the heat source to medium, and let it sit for about 1/2 hour, (if you are like me, you will find it hard to wait, I wanna see it now!) Stir occasionally; oh, so gently, with a non-metal utensil of course…don’t agitate..no felting allowed here. Let the pot cool. Ok, now you can remove the fiber and RINSE (keep rinsing til you are sick of it) rinse some more. Keep in mind, the mordant has made a chemical change,rinsing won’t hurt it. Having excess mordant will. Those pesky molecules of mordant will dance about, holding on in all the wrong places…causing havoc with your color and finished results. Rinse people. It is ready to be dyed or it may be stored wet or dry, for later dyeing – if yo can wait. If possible, let it sit over night.

onion-skins
Fleece on the Duck ~ onion skins to dye fiber.

***If you use crockpots. Allow them to preheat. Water should be good and hot BEFORE you add fiber, and then leave it on the high setting for 1/2 an hour, just like on the stove. Always, rinse out your crockpots well. You do not want to allow deposits of metal salts to build up. This can cause crockpot explosions. If a crack appears..ditch it. If mordants get into the metal base the pot may shatter. Kind of neat to explode a crockpot, but nonetheless, a bad idea.

PREPARATION OF DYE-BATH
Place dyes (what ever dye medium you have chosen) into cold water and heat slowly. the smaller the particles- the better results…so break things up as best you can.
Most dyes need to be brought to a boil before color is extracted. Dissolve powders. Heat till color is drawn out…cool.(both physically,and metaphorically).Strain twigs, bark or other matter;you probably don’t want all that in your finished project.

DYEING
Enter wet wool into a tepid bath. Heat slowly. Gradual temperature changes, and gentle stirring prevent shrinkage and felting. keep the fiber or yarn in the dye bath until you are happy with the color. Or until the dye bath is exhausted, ( and hopefully, you are not) Do remember;colors are darker on wet fiber. Decide accordingly.
Allow the dye bath to cool before removing the fiber you have just dyed beautifully. Use care to gently, , I say, gently,squeeze fiber to remove dye liquids. Let’s rinse yet again…til it runs clear. Allow the fiber or yarn to dry.
Behold your creation!

So, now you know!
Be well,
Jess

Let It Snow-Man!


Things to love about winter…

Watching the snow fall covering everything with sparkling beauty.

The crunch of snow under my feet.

Sliding down the hill on a plastic or wooden sled, or even a piece of cardboard box.(Well, the card board thing didn’t really work out so well, I broke my leg in three places and was in the hospital for a week and a cast from my toes to my waist for 3 months, after i had the cast “reduced” to just the length of my leg, I fell down the stairs while racing my little brother Sean; broke the cast- and back to the hospital I went…. Yup, I was that child.)

The holiday lights that make the whole outside world look like a winter wonderland.

As temperatures dip, and the long nights take hold,(they are now on the upswing) Enjoy some of the things that only winter weather can bring. Without cold weather there would be no snow, no ice, no backyard skating rinks, no sledding, no snow forts to build,(my children used to paint their’s with spray bottles full of food color and water) and certainly no snow boarding! So, as long as it’s winter time, get out and have some fun,put on an extra layer, and head outside.
I have always wanted to build a skating rink in my yard, I will try this year; it’s going to be cold for the next couple of weeks.

snow man
Building a snowman, or watching a small child build one…

Drew boy
I think there must be an art to sledding…

snow fun

the walk
Do you remember the walk back up the hill…worth it every time.

Finni fun
Zooom…(uhm, not so much) putt,putt was more like it.

Andrew
Winter fun, never goes out of style.

waiting
Waiting for their turn…to shine.

home
I love the snow;with winter I feel close to home. We have our rituals and family dinners. And as I reflect, I smile at the nostalgia of my life.
Be well,
Jess

Ya Know What They Say; When in Rome…


If it feels like spring outside, I thought I would make it feel more like Spring inside as well, and for $2.99, how could I go wrong.

rome

Nothing says Spring like pink tulips.

spring

Some time ago, in a post or two I referenced an old barn and a kitchen island…here is the result, whaddaya think?

kitchen isl

This true color, I added a green to the last photo, you know – (fake)Spring thing and all…
Island

My sauce is simmering downstairs..gotta run.

Be well,
Jess

Mud Season?


Mud season, It’s a time of pondering, planning, or plotting; for there is not much to do.

mud 2

The countryside is in limbo, ready for a sudden rebirth, the trees are bare and there is this drizzle that hangs and then drips from everything. People are grumpy, sick and tired of winter with its slush, snow and freezing pipes The skiing is over, the frost is out of the ground, and buildings, are looking tired and ravaged by winter……screech (sound of brakes) It is only January,people.

mud breeze

The Mud, which tracks into my kitchen,my car, and sticks to my dogs like…well, like mud! It appears that I can tolerate mud season better with the promise of the coming spring…until then you can find me mopping, wiping paws and under bellies, and slopping, sloppy barns…ah,well;carry on we must.

mud early

It might be warm for a January day..but, it sure was pretty.
mud and trees

I suppose these chairs can rest awhile longer.
mud chairs

Be Well,
Jess

Have you noticed?


The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.

snowy morning in December 13

snowy morning in December 14

snowy morning in December 9

Fiini in the snow
Finnigan? “Where does your white go when it melts?”

Sipping tea,the my toes and nose begin to thaw….seed catalogs in hand.
Be well,
Jess

Here, Here!


2013

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min’,
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

girls 12 31 12

And here’s a hand, my trusty fierce,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
And we’ll tak’ a right guid willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,

boyz

We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint stowpt,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
-Robert Burns

fence

Whatever you resolve to do,
On any New Year’s Day,
Resolve to yourself to be true
And live-the same old way

toast

I wish you Love,
I wish you cheer,
I wish you Peace
throughout the year!

Be Well,
Jess

Andrew’s moon


Sometimes you can give children all of the instructions you want; and they will do exactly what they think you want.


I asked Andrew, to sit and hold the moon, explaining that if he holds his hands like a cup, I can take a picture looking like he is “holding the moon”. He promptly sat his little self down, crossed his legs and held up the tennis ball ~ his moon!


now, just where did I put that tripod? Could have used it here…


We even had our own fireworks last night ~ in the garden.


It was too beautiful an evening to go back into the house. Long after the animals were fed and the chicks and ducks put to bed…we lingered wandering about the pastures and fields. Sometimes you just need to eek out every second of bliss you can.


I am doggy sitting for my daughter this week, so at times I have been charged with 5 dogs…the weeds in my garden are having a field day and the plum tomatoes are waiting to be plucked off the vine; the sauerkraut is wanting to be skimmed, and the pool is now green as the grass…the pups, the llamas, the chicks, and ducks are all content…life is good.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change


Si, looking out the window on a rainy day

Last year, when Naldo and Si were visiting, we had a hurricanes! You can read about it here and Here…if you ‘d like.

Be well,
Enjoy the last of the summer or whatever season it is where you live!
Jess

Bountiful..or one bunch


It’s all relative isn’t it? Bounty.

This may not look like much to you…but, alas, it is this gardener’s crowning glory. Juicy purple goodness..my first grapes from this years seedling!!! Yippee.


cabbage green, tomatoes red and purple GRAPES.


Jack’s lantern…


There comes a time when autumn asks, What have you been doing all summer?


The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows
itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many;I grow old, I grow old,’ the garden says. Thanks for the bounty, says I.

Be well,
Jess