The winter seemed to go slowly to me. I was sick a lot and had weeks of weariness that meant I wasn’t able to put my itchy fingers to use the way I’d like to. So one particular week of wind and spring rain, I decided on a very small project. The cotton bag a purchase from Beautiful Silks arrived in met the remains of some soy milk that was in the fridge at work for too long. Then it joined a shirt front previously prepared for dyeing.
I’ve been trying to walk more, so windblown eucalyptus leaves and opportunistic scores of leaves were added to the mix, and pretty soon I had a bundle.
I think the bag is much improved. The way these prints turned out is so interesting–almost like an out-of-focus photograph.
And the shirt front stands ready for its next incarnation.
Finally, since plastic troubles me more and more all the time, I took a leaf from Beautiful Silks‘ book and stitched parcels for these supplies, being returned to another city after use on national divestment (from fossil fuels) day rather than buying new plastic prepaid satchels. And now to discover what the post office think about parcels that come stitched up in ancient flannelette sheet. [Update: the woman on the counter made a joke about me sending pillows through the post, asked how she was supposed to get stamps to stick to that, then answered her own question by saying that was her problem not mine]!
Once upon a time there was a linen tablecloth. It was a round table cloth with an overlocked edge, gifted to me by someone who no longer had a round table.
It went into the dyepot one week, but since the dye pot is only so big, I tore it into strips and dyed it that way, mostly with E Scoparia, but also with cotinus (smokebush) leaves and flowering heads picked when they poked out through a fence near our food co-op. I really could not believe the purple from the cotinus and I am not sure why it happened. Needless to say, I will try that again and see if it repeats. I did also try woad leaves but that was less spectacular. Pinky but not very leaf printy.
Some time last year I had a sudden whim to turn it into Merchant and Mills Top #64 and pieced parts together to make that happen, and cut it out. Then after a while it was rolled up. Then it was parked for some months. Just recently I did some cleaning up and thought maybe I should finish some things. I just sewed a seam or two a day in a busy time.
Since so many readers here were interested in my recent discussion of interfacing, here’s what happened this time. I cut the neck facing out of a piece of leaf printed calico. I actually cut it back out of a piece of patchwork, also unfinished.
The interfacing fabric is a piece of a much loved kimono that has passed beyond the mending interest of my mother-out-law. You can see it layered under the facing here after stitching teh layers together but before finishing the edge.
I think my mother-out-law is rather enjoying being able to send me her raggedy, beloved things as they get past the point of original use and getting stories of their conversion into all manner of other things. I stitched the two pieces of fabric together and overlocked (serged) the outer edge. Here it is pinned on and ready to stitch.
Here is the back view:
And some closer views…
It is rather stiff at present, after its preparatory baths in soy milk mordant. But that will change with more washing.
All the little bits and pieces were, needless to say, so interesting to me that I patched them together months before I sewed the garment!
My latest attempt to protect the plants that have so far survived in a patch of nearby public land is not a very extensive one.
Just one pennant that says ‘please respect the garden’.
I have tried to give it flutter factor by adding all the little triangles of eco-printed fabric cut from the binding on my last quilt. Meanwhile, I’ve embarked on an extended programme of propagating plants for the neighbourhood public spaces.
I’m trying out taking cuttings of this saltbush. We’ll see how it goes. I read honey could help them take root. I couldn’t see it doing any harm, so I am trying it out.
The main action is still creeping boobialla.
Pruned back and ready to go. I followed up by trying pricking out ruby saltbush. Fingers crossed this will multiply the effective number of plants from those that germinated late in summer.
And then I might have enough plants to try re-planting some of those that have been squashed by cars under my little pennant.
I’ve been trying leaves I don’t usually use and some different strategies for cooking them up. Prunus leaves, kindly contributed by this block of flats. I am sure they wouldn’t mind!
Maple… I think this is Japanese maple.
I have tried several different sheoaks.
Some of the results are really spectacular. My favourite is quite green, very exciting.
Here it is beside the prunus prints.
They are pretty pale…
The maple leaves were interesting, and I love the impression of the string ties. And this sheoak came out better than any other so far. I tried 6he leaves out on a linen collar, and wrapped it around a rusty spring I found in my leaf gathering travels. This bundle was so small I overlooked it, so this one had a long time in the pot, which is no doubt a clue for future experiments.
Some results were less exciting. I did get a pale green print from our birch leaves, which is a first and might be promising.
I went back for more juvenile E Polyanthemos and this time, not so great prints resulted, but I did get some that were quite green, and that’s promising too.
Meanwhile, the saga of the neighbourhood bees continues. The lorikeets moved out of this nesting box, and the bees moved in weeks ago. There is now honeycomb visible in the opening.
The latest round of saltbush seedlings have gone out into the big, wide (hot, dry) world. With the occasional alyssum seedling carried along for the ride. We loaded up the wheelbarrow and headed out with our well soaked seedlings.
There was precious little soil to plant them in, in places… but we will just try them out and see how far they get. We were planting by a pedestrian and cycle crossing, and I was a bit surprised by how many people thanked and congratulated us, perhaps giving us credit for planting that has been done by the council, as well as the 20 or so plants we were setting out.
Once they were watered in, we wandered off down the road to spread a bit more mulch and pick plastics out of the mulch council has supplied. Since planting we have realised that the council workers who are watering the council plantings are also watering the ones we put in–awesome!
There have been yet more pennants for Solace… I went to a conference and spent the quiet evenings, of which there were few, stitching away on these.
Some are double sided… I told my sister (we had dinner one night while I was conferencing) about the project and she asked what I was writing on the pennants. When I said ‘ladybirds’ she laughed and said she felt that way about ladybirds too!
‘Weeding and revegetation’ seemed an appropriate one to show in this post… but when I made this pennant I was thinking of dear friends who weed and care for precious places in the Blue Mountains and beyond… and of pulling out caltrop in the new plantings in our street, which is part of the route of a bikeway! Caltrop produces the ‘three corner jack’, a vicious spiny seed capsule more than capable of piercing a thong (flip flop) or deflating a bicycle tyre. For another contribution to the project, you might like to go here and be inspired.
It has been a big week for the silkworms. The stage of audible munching has been reached. I come out in the morning and there is just about no leaf left. I now have 3 trays of silkworms.
Minutes after I add more leaves, holes appear and heads poke through them. keeping up the supply is a big job.
Meanwhile, the critter action in our backyard ramped up to a swarm of bees, hanging from a metal arch with a rose bush on it.
I found a friendly beekeeper who agreed to come and collect them. I didn’t realise I would be a participant. He took pity on me and lent me a cover for my head and face and upper body. He was wearing shorts and a t shirt! I shook the archway and he held up a box and caught the swarm as it dropped in.
They seem to have settled in. Here they are heading in and out in the morning sun.
The beekeeper noticed a second swarm in next door’s tree. We hoped they might be two parts of the same swarm, but apparently not. That koala shaped blob silhouetted against the sky is a mass of bees to high to reach. They might be with us for some time to come.
Meanwhile in backyard news, the biggest carrot ever grown at our place. I guess I still think of myself as someone who does not grow carrots, and forgot to check on them.
And the leeks and rhubarb are in. Rhubarb with ginger and vanilla and orange this week. Mmmm.