Friday, May 21, 2010

Dyes from Plants In Our Own Backyard

I've been obsessed with Ida Grae's old book NATURE'S COLORS- Dyes from Plants. Lily and I found 25 dye plants just in our yard!

Beets- magenta
Cotoneaster berries- Rose tan
Daisy (Gloriosa)- bright olive to dark green
Dock root- gold
Dock blossoms- rose beige to terra cotta
Elderberries- mauve to grey blue
Grape leaves- intense yellow
Grapes- greenish blue to dark blue
Mallow- medium blue
Mullien- bright yellow or chartreuse
Olive leaves- bright yellow to olive green
Olives- deep purple
Oxalis flowers- deep orange brown
Pine needles- olive green
Plantain- brown
Plum leaves (green)- yellow green
Plum leaves (Dark)- purples
Privet leaves- yellow or dark khaki green
Privet berries- grass green
Redwood bark- tan, brown, terra cotta
Rosemary- various yellow green
Rudbeckia- bright chartreuse to dark green
Scabiosa- bright green to dark blue
Toyon- burnt orange
Walnut leaves- almost black to many browns
Walnut husks and shells- almost black to many browns
Yarrow- yellow to maize or dark green

And for us urban homesteaders in old neighborhoods there's Iron buff (all of those rusty bits we keep digging up)- orange to rusty red.

The colors vary depending on the materials used, mordants used, and pots used in the process. I'll post our findings when we get to dyeing next month. In the meantime check out Rebecca Burgess' great FIBERSHED project. She has a fabulous website and is a great resource.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Swarm Season is Here!

The air around the neighborhood is buzzing. We were able to set up two new hives in the past two weeks. One came from the front porch of Lily's house and the other was a swarm that landed in a tree down the street. We shook the swarm into an hive box and they went to work.

So, we're ready for Summer! Our neighbors really missed having our bees around after we lost our two hives over the Winter. They'll be happy to know we're back in business.

Here's a copy of a note left on our front door last Summer:

"Hi Neighbors,
I hear ducks quacking.
I get bees in my back yard.
I hear banjo music, which I love.
You guys are the best neighbors EVER!!"