Friday, 23 June 2017

In the Footsteps of Sheep by Debbie Zawinski - Review

A signed copy of 'In the Footsteps of Sheep' by Debbie Zawinski came to me as an unexpected gift at such a fraught time in my family that I even forgot to send a thank you letter. Life has only really settled back toward normal recently and as is the way of things, instead of relaxing and enjoying the headspace, I've been irritable and uptight. In my hands, even the finest merino and softest silk have been spun into stringency. After a couple of abortive attempts to begin new projects, I went digging through bags of unfinished knitting and rediscovered this book.  

In The Footsteps Of Sheep, Debbie Zawinski journeys to the places in Scotland most native to its indigenous breeds of sheep. Often free camping in remote spots, she forages for bits of fleece that the sheep have shed about the countryside, then packs up her gear and walks on next day, spinning the wool into yarn using only a stick. Engaged by the immediacy and honesty of her writing, I was wrong to assume that this kind of enterprise would make a worthy, but soporific bedtime read. Morning found me waking late, walking the dog and talking with my companion, Elinor Gotland, enthusing over the whole notion and keen to try it myself. 

"That Debbie sounds like a nutter to me, Beaut." 
My companion gave up objecting and found herself a sheltered spot for a smoke on the headland while the dog hunted rabbits and I scrambled about in the gorse and brambles, collecting whatever wool had not been blown away by gale force winds.
"On the contrary, my dear Gotland." I plumped myself down beside her and started to pick the thorns out of a handful of fibres. "Debbie Zawinski has kept exactly the clarity of purpose I have lost. Once upon a time, my heart's desire was to spin fleece from local sheep and knit in natural colours."
"Fair play, you did try. I remember the Huxtable jumper - so thick and heavy you could hardly move. And the Welsh Mountain - what a rainbow of canary stained cable that was. Then there was a Blue Texel. Didn't you turn it into bath mats in the end?"
"Hmm, well, me wearing a handspun, native wool jumper has plainly turned into an abandoned dream. I've been running astray, shopping for indie dyed, mill processed luxury fibres, forgetting why I started spinning in the first place. Look at this wool, rain washed, imbued with local character." I held it out to show her and yelped as a couple of gorse spines stabbed into my thumb.

Elinor examined my salvaged fleece as we walked on. She turned to me.
"Imbued with your very own DNA. You've got blood on it now. Will you listen if I tell you you're going astray again? Think about it. This month, Gethin the shearer is working himself into the ground and your friend Mary will give you as much Speckled Face Beulah shearling fleece as you want. Here you are, wasting time on kempy old crap off the back end of some random crossbred ewe." 
"In Scotland, they call these bits of wool 'henty lags'. Come on, I'm going down the beach to find a driftwood stick to learn to spin with."

Spinning on a stick is simple, portable, satisfying fun. There are so many things I enjoyed about the book. The little maps showing routes taken on ferries, buses and of course, on foot. The evocative pictures of places and people, Shetland, Hebridean, Scottish Blackface, Boreray, Soay, North Country Cheviot, North Ronaldsay, Castlemilk Moorit, Cheviot and Bowmont sheep. The best thing of all is Debbie Zawinski's style. OK, she is earnest in her heartfelt responses to landscapes and her fascination with the creatures which inhabit them, yet her courage and determination to travel among them is never cast in heroic mould. Speeding across the sea on a small ferry to St Kilda 'is a symphony of sound and motion, almost a ballet; rhythmic, hypnotic. I catch myself dozing, head lolling backwards and mouth hanging open; hopefully no one has noticed.' Time after time, I caught myself smiling in recognition and fellow feeling.
At Spinning Camp last week, I read a chapter aloud. 'Here on this desolate and rugged chunk of metamorphic rock with thousands of clangourous sea birds for companions live a flock of feral sheep; the Boreray sheep." Spinners fell silent hearing Debbie's daring plans to collect fleece from Boreray island, all of us could empathise with her fears as she was told she would have to swim or climb the last part of the approach. My copy of the book was handed round and added to several wish lists.

Finding no valve in my air mattress and spending the first night in my tent turning in a rotisserie of pain on the cold, hard ground, reminded me that however much I might like to identify with Debbie's self sufficiency and back to basics willingness to physically involve herself with both living and spinning in the wild, I lack her steel. Laying aside my driftwood stick and henty lags, after shopping for a new air mattress, I did spin a substantial amount of a Black Welsh Mountain lamb's fleece.

Each chapter of the book ends with a knitting pattern 'ten pairs of very different socks, each geared to the perceived needs of the recipient, the particular characteristics of the fleece I was working with and inspiration from their attendant story'. All look beautiful and have directions for sizing and making up with commercially available yarns.

Temporarily forswearing beaded lace shawls, reading the book at camp renewed my motivation to complete a pair of toe up Speckled Face Beulah socks, part dyed with yellow cosmos, which have been occupying my best circular needle since well before Christmas. Intending to finish with a flourish by copying the cable turnover given in the kilt sock pattern, I overestimated my powers once again. Simply switching to cable pulled the cuff in far too tight for the human foot to pass through. Still, here are my primitive socks, finished in ordinary ribbing and here am I, content with ordinary Welsh fleece and working toward a Black Welsh Mountain and plant dyed Beulah handspun jumper. Whether that turns out well or not, I thank Debbie Zawinski for reconnecting me with the significance of homegrown handspun. 

In The Footsteps of Sheep
by Debbie Zawinski
Published by Schoolhouse Press
printed in the USA
April 2015

Friday, 9 June 2017

Spinning and Knitting Space Dyed Wool Tops

"Of all the dyed tops you could have chosen, from all the stalls at Wonderwool Wales, tell me, what possessed you to pick that grey and brown?"
My companion, Elinor Gotland, was more partial to the hot pink stuff also dyed and sold by MandaCraftsWhile its colours may be subtler, my purchase was an exquisitely soft blend of fine merino wool with an added sheen of silk.

"I was thinking of making something for my nephew. Secure as he is in his own masculinity, I don't suppose he would get too much wear out of your selection. Plumbers can get away with fancy tattoos, but maybe not pink woolly scarves." Leaving Elinor among the daisies, I hastened away to start spinning. 
The quality of this fibre was not the only reason for my excitement. Last year, I bought a Schacht Reeves spinning wheel from a friend who had found it didn't suit a left handed spinner. Meeting up at Wonderwool, I had to confess the wheel had spent the winter decorating my hall, with me too nervous to use it. Returning home I felt shamed into plucking up the necessary courage.
After fiddling about a bit to find its sweet spot, the Schacht was spinning like a dream, gentle treadling putting in a huge amount of twist which enabled me to spin a far finer single than I usually manage on Roger, my Ashford Traveller. Spinning short forward draw, back and forth across the top of the opened braid, the bobbin filled with pure colour bands and gentle transitions.
The dyed sections of the braid were closely spaced and I noticed that as I drafted across each change, individual fibres had one part of their staple length in one colour and one part in the next. Fascinating to watch the gradual shift in tone along the single, I kept stopping to admire the bobbin. In order to make a yarn that preserved this flow, I set to Navajo plying. After washing the yarn, while loving the colours and proud of the fingering weight 3 ply spinning, the finished skein did not feel as luxuriously smoochy as I had imagined. In retrospect, spinning any fibre worsted with quite such high twist would be bound to reduce its softness.
While spinning, I had been wondering how best to show off my medium/short length colour changes. In stocking stitch, even the width of a small scarf would barely get one whole row in each colour and the transitions would not be long enough to separate the stripes. The mitred square knitting technique is clearly explained in the free pattern for The Coziest Memory blanket.
Very straightforward to knit, though time consuming in fingering weight yarn on number 11 needles. I could manage about two little squares while watching TV of an evening. "See, Elinor, how beautiful grey and brown can be. Look at the way each square holds its own colour transitions."
"Fair play, Beaut, nice square. Shame you won't have enough yarn to make that scarf."
Aaaagh, she was quite right, damn her. 
The garter stitch squares were also yarn consuming and one sixteen square block had used up more than half my fibre. I tore the remaining braid of fibre across its width into three equal lengths and spun them onto three bobbins, then plied all three together. No attempt to keep the colours together, the result of this experiment would show what blending random chance might bring.
Each of the little squares was 23 stitches across. I cast on 92 + 92 stitches and knitted one big square, carrying on with grey Shetland yarn when I ran out toward the top right corner. The outer edges of the square held quite distinct colours and rather lovely mottled transitions, while the colours had been variably blended in plying the yarn that knitted the inner part. The overall effect is more muted than that given by Navajo plying, with much longer, slower colour changes. 
"I do like the colours on this side, but I think the big square has something of an abstract pointilliste painting."
"Art, is it? Best ring the Royal Academy and tell them to hold a space in the Summer Exhibition."
"Don't be such a hardarse, Elinor. You can see very well that I've crocheted the pieces together and stuffed them to make a cushion."
"Just as well you spun that fibre into a death twist, Beaut. At least the yarn is tough enough to cope with a hard arse."

Friday, 2 June 2017

Dyeing Yarn with Silver Birch Bark in a Long Colour Change

Not long til we go to Somerset for Spinning Camp. So much to look forward to, not least the promise of a turn at weaving a shawl on a friend's seven foot triloom. In preparation, I went digging through my stash, searching for 400 metres of double knitting wool. The skeins of Coburg Fuchschaf sheepswool yarn which I bought last year in Berlin feel more durable and strong than smoochy soft, but I'd been advised to choose some wool on the tougher side, as fulling a woven shawl will improve the handle of the final fabric. 

Such expert advice is one of the many joys of the company of spinners. Apparently, the best effects in triloom weaving come from using a long colour change yarn. Though there may well be better ways of setting yourself up to do this, before scouring and dyeing the yarn, I wrapped each of my 200m skeins round the top of a clothes horse, making between 10 and 20 turns and tying a marker of scrap yarn around them, before moving down to a lower point, wrapping another set of turns, tying a marker, moving down to the lowest point, wrapping and tying, then coming back up and down again, making more bundles at each of the three points til the yarn ran out. Each of my three sections ended up with several sets of wrapped turns, linked by short trails of loose yarn. The three sections were secured individually with loose cotton ties in four places. Clouds of lanolin floated out from the yarn during a hot soak with detergent. Given the awkwardness of transferring each triple bundle of yarn, trying not to twist up the lengths of yarn running between the sections, I was grateful I had made up a pot of bark dye, so the wool would not need to be mordanted.

Four hundred grammes of freshly peeled silver birch bark had had a week to soak in a pot of water and then been simmered for an hour or two and left overnight to cool before being sieved out. The natural pH of the resultant dye bath was slightly acidic. Adding some soda ash to alkalinise a test sample in a jam jar made the colour look deeper and redder, so I brought the whole dye bath up just above neutral. I'd like to have made it properly alkaline, but feared a high pH might make the yarn weak and too rough to be redeemed by any amount of fulling.

The two skeins, with their complicated sets of ties, in total measuring 400m and weighing 200g, were launched sopping wet into the dye pot and simmered en masse. The first time I tried silver birch bark dye, the outcome was a pale pink and I blamed the nature of the wool for the poor uptake of colour. This Coburg Fuchschaf yarn started out a goldish cream colour and had only turned palest orangey pink in the first hour of simmering, despite having twice the weight ratio of birch bark as my my first attempt. Damn, damn, damn. What the hell, this time, I turned up the heat a little and gave it another hour, which did deepen the colour considerably. The wool had become impressively red after four hours, when I turned off the gas and left it to cool overnight.

Now to dye the long colour change sections in different shades. Adding dissolved iron to one pot of water and dissolved copper to another, I managed to separate each of the skeins into its three constituent bundles and land one in the copper pot, the next in the iron, keeping the third just as it was. After heating them for half an hour, I wanted to rinse out the copper and iron as soon as the skeins were cool enough to handle. This became a total logistic nightmare of shuffling the linked hot pots towards the sink, rinsing sections separately in order not the cross contaminate the colours.

Once dried, I could compare the silver birch dye results with my previous efforts. The deeper colours may well be due to prolonged heat. On the left is the unmodified pinky orange, in the middle, the saddened brown of iron modification and on the right, I think the best result, with copper adding a purple cast to the pink.

It took nearly an hour to wind each skein into a ball, undoing the ties on the main three sections then working back through each set of wraps, saying to myself 'Patience is a virtue.', knowing full well that being methodical was the only way to avoid a rats' nest of yarn. I do look forward to seeing the effect of weaving it on the triloom, though the shawl is going to have to be pretty spectacular to persuade me to dye yarn in a long colour change again. Thinking about it now, it would be more straightforward to dye fibre, then spin the colours in different lengths. I used the remaining silver birch bath to dye a silk scarf in a contact dye bundle. The pinky red came out beautifully on silk and though the garden dye plants are still juvenile, their leaves are already giving out some colour. Here's hoping the sun will shine in June, on plants and campers alike.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Leaf Hammer Prints Overdyed with Iron and Meadowsweet

Last year, I tried hammer printing leaves onto mordanted silk and then dyeing the fabric with iron solution added to a plant dye bath. The pretty green prints on white silk turned into much more drab, dark shapes on a tea coloured background. However, these did not wash off the fabric. Fetching them out of the drawer twelve months later, while leaf prints I simply hammered onto calico had faded to pale brown, I found the iron dyed hammer leaf prints on silk hadn't changed at all.

Hammer leaf prints are the project for May in the Plant Dye Calendar. Seeing as the trees are now well covered in leaves, I collected a few different kinds, picked some more from garden plants and set a board on a low wall on the patio, to give myself a steady surface to work on. It was a warm day and hammering on the kitchen table makes it shudder and reverberate, which can make prints come out with blurred double edges. First I experimented on a test piece of off cut curtain fabric, to find out which leaves went squashy and shapeless under the hammer and which kinds were too dry to leave much of a mark.
My companion, Elinor Gotland, pushed her shades up to her forehead and sat up on her sun lounger.
"Are you nearly done with that hammering?"
"I haven't even started on the main project yet. I am going to use the offcuts to embellish BG's new curtains with leaf printed borders."
"I'm not being funny, Beaut, but curtains will get full sun. Crap choice for your fast fading hammer leaf prints. Dye a nice, quiet ecobundle and let an exhausted ewe have her siesta in peace." She let her shades slide back down and settled back saying pointedly "Some of us have been doing our bit for democracy."
To be fair, Elinor has thrown herself into the current election frenzy. Less knocking on doors and canvassing than sitting up until all hours watching TV, so far as I can tell.

Unwilling to listen to another analysis of the political situation, I ignored her complaints, though hammering leaves quickly became wearisome to me too. Two strips of  the linen/cotton blend curtain fabric which had been mordanted with aluminium acetate were thumped until leaf juices squished up to the surface of the old cotton sheet I laid over them. Once I took away the cotton and peeled off the flattened leaves, the curtain strips did look pretty. Though I knew the colours would be lost, it kept me going to discover red acer leaves printed pink and I was pleased with the wiggly pattern from a sprig of fennel.

Usually, I would soak fabric well before dyeing it. Afraid this might lift off the prints, I plunged my two leaf printed strips straight into a dye bath I had made by simmering a bunch of dried meadowsweet plant tops, with a splosh of dissolved iron added in and a teaspoon of soda ash to alkalinise the bath and bring up the meadowsweet's colour. The pot was simmered for an hour or so and left to cool overnight.

When I pulled out the fabric next morning, I could barely make out the leaf prints. Once the strips were hung up, as the sun shone through the drying fabric, it showed all the prints were still there, though ferns and birch leaves, which had been less juicy, were not as clear to see as hardy geraniums and fennel. That afternoon I rinsed the strips very gently and found I could clear the worst of the iron residue without removing the prints.
"Strong and stable? I thought not."
Elinor launched into the kitchen, all guns blazing, while the front door slammed shut.
"Bit soon to say, really." I was taken aback. The curtain prints are just an experiment, which my friend BG is happy to take part in. Such venom seemed an over-reaction to putting up with one afternoon of hammering. Elinor had her hooves on her hips and an alarmingly truculent air.
"Well, if his party leader had the courage to take part in a TV debate, we'd learn soon enough about her strength and stability. I told that stupid man what he could do with his leaflets, but he ran away out the gate. It seems we shall have to recycle these ourselves."
As she chucked a handful of flyers into the fire basket, I realised Elinor had just buttonholed one of the local activists who had foolishly tried posting a few election policy papers through our letterbox. 

Happily for me, she was off to a meeting in Cardiff that night, on fire to address Welsh Labour's deficiencies in health and education. Fluffing her fleece in front of the mirror, she simpered at her reflection, murmuring to herself with relish,
"Carwyn has this coming. No-one can heckle like a stand-up comic. Bye, Beaut, don't wait up!" 
The meadowsweet dye dried out to a pale olive green with the leaf prints visible in a deeper shade. Once the fabric was ironed and pinned out, I had a restful time watching the BBC coverage of Chelsea Flower Show while hemming curtains and sewing on their new embellishments. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Needlefelting Wool and Silk Mermaids

I have been gambling on a frost free May this year. My most advanced young plants are already braving the weather out in the dye garden and another load of seedlings are hardening off on the patio. This week we have had plenty of rain after a very dry spell, so next week should be perfect for gardening. Poised on the brink of summer.

"Fancy going down the beach for a swim, Elinor?"
My companion gathered her shawl around her shoulders.
"You want to die of hypothermia? My core temperature is dangerously low as it is. Five minutes of sunshine and you've turned off the central heating, packed away your long underwear and planted out the geraniums. Far too soon, Beaut."
Just to get her blood circulating, we walked the dog on the dunes, coming home with a few gnarly lumps of driftwood.
"Himself will have a fit if you try to hide those in the garage. He's just reorganised all his bike stuff, I think he even had the hoover out there."
"Have no fear, Elinor, these are going straight up to the craft room. This week, I shall be mostly making mermaids."

The idea of modifying basic wool fairy making into a mermaid shape had occurred to me before, though I hadn't worked out all the details. I started with the usual strip of white merino tops, tied with a thread at the centre. Rather than twisting a pipe cleaner round the felted ball of wool that forms the core of the head, I used a 20 gauge green florists wire, which is strong, but flexible enough to bend easily. Twirling a thin length of white roving to cover the pipecleaner arms, I had to go back and add an extra layer, since the mermaid wouldn't be wearing a dress and her bare arms looked weedy. The white merino was then folded in half over the head and tied at the neck with another thread.
Thinking the nude shoulders and torso might look scrawny, I added a shorter, second layer of white wool with a hole pushed through, to drop over the head in place of the usual dress. For the tail, a section of merino/silk blend in blues and purples was laid flat with a strong thread across it two thirds of the way up.

The top third of the coloured wool was folded over the thread and the mermaid placed face down with the thread at waist level. Tying the thread firmly at the small of her back brought the coloured tops round her circumference and allowed me to stretch and fluff the lower coloured fibres in towards the midline ready to start needlefelting her tail.
Despite intensive stabbing at her torso with the needle to compress the fibres tightly, this mermaid ended up with a fine pair of shoulders.
"Not much in the way of tits, though, Beaut. How's a girl supposed to lure sailors onto the rocks if you don't give her the right equipment?"

"Beauty comes in many forms. She'd be very successful modelling a Spring Collection in Paris."
"Not with no legs, she wouldn't."

Agreeing that the androgenous look might be better suited to the catwalk, my next mermaid was given no extra layer over her shoulders. Instead, a strip of white tops was knotted round the florist wire then flipped up and wound around the upper arms to add substance where it was needed.

Making the tail narrow down before flaring into fins also proved a challenge. Tying it with silk or ribbon spoiled the sleek shape. Twisting the entire bulk of fibre, then needlefelting into the spiral gave a better effect. The lowest section was easy to open out and divide into two fins which could be needlefelted flat.
This mermaid also got a padded bikini top, needlefelted separately before fitting it onto her chest. Sewing a bead into her cleavage cinched the centre down for a considerably more buxom result.
Once long ringlets of Black Wensleydale wool locks had been needlefelted onto her head, the first mermaid's torso was mostly concealed. Drilling two holes through a piece of driftwood, the florists wire was passed through and twisted firmly to fix her in a sitting position, followed by some glue to keep her hand and tail and a few decorations in place. 
"Doesn't look very chirpy, does she?"
"She is a pensive mermaid, Elinor. Fathoms deep in thought."
"Probably wondering where her boobs are."

The other mermaid cheerfully adopted a more confident pose.

Since it had started raining again, Elinor left me to walk the dog while she offered her personal assistance with a smidge of extra wool for one of the new arrivals.
"There we are then, feeling better now? Buck up, girl, accentuate the positive."

Then the mermaids began to sing and within moments, Elinor was fast asleep.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Making Leaf Contact Prints with an Iron Blanket

The arcana of the ecoprinters seem Byzantine to the facebook observer. The images they post of leaf and flower prints on silks and cottons are lovely to admire while drinking tea in front of the computer, understanding the comments exchanged below requires a bit of prior knowledge. Researching the nature of the 'iron blanket' or carrier cloth, such a thing is variously described online. Typically, it is cotton fabric that has been wrapped round pieces of rusty iron and soaked in a solution of vinegar and water for a few weeks. Some mention using paper towels to carry iron onto their fabric. I decided surely paper would go soggy and fall apart during a long soak, maybe I could take a shortcut and simply soak my piece of old cotton sheet for a couple of hours in a diluted bowl of some iron solution I have been keeping in a jar. While I have no idea how much iron was absorbed into my iron blanket (the off white fabric in the first photo), the experts aren't precise about theirs either. I suppose they had to try out what would work for them and this would just be my first trial.
Anyway, to my understanding, once created, an iron blanket the same size as the fabric you want to dye is laid flat on a non permeable sheet, such as plastic or greaseproof paper. In these photos, you can just see the edges of my greaseproof paper, aka baking parchment, lying underneath the iron blanket. The first photo shows just the iron blanket with a selection of leaves with interesting shapes, which I hoped might prevent iron from reaching the silk scarf I laid on top, giving a resist pattern. The second photo shows the silk scarf with leaves of brambles, hardy geraniums and new shoots of lycestra laid face up on top, plus a scattering of dried coreopsis and chamomile flowers, to add a bit of colour.

Rolled around a section of plastic downpipe and tied up with string, the bundle was simmered in plain water for a couple of hours, left to cool overnight, then dried for a day. Steaming seems to be the standard method, but I haven't got to grips with sorting out a trivet to hold up the bundle and the lids for my dye pots are not remotely tight fitting.

At the grand unrolling I could see at once that my iron blanket had worked. Bramble and hardy geranium leaves seem to hold iron to print their own shapes in grey on cloth and they had definitely attracted iron from the iron blanket. The random selection of leaves I had picked from the garden hoping for resist patterns had actually left pale colours.
The aquilegia leaf made the best resist effect. The cotton iron blanket is lying on the left, with the silk peeled away from it to the right of the photo. Other leaves left subtly coloured shadow shapes rather than giving any dramatic resist effects. The photo below shows a faint fern print on the washed and ironed scarf.

Though the geranium and bramble leaves had made iron prints, and the flowers had added bronze and yellowy green splotches, the general impression is muted. Even printing throughout the roll, more professional than my usual iron soaked string results, yet neither as wild a palimpsest as my original method gives, nor as crisp and clear and rich as the photos on facebook.

Lately, some beautiful green ecoprints of horse chestnut leaves have been shown online, described as being made using an iron blanket on wool. This week, seeing the horse chestnut trees in flower, I picked leaves to try making some myself, using two pieces of wool gauze. One print would be made by sandwiching leaves between the wool and an iron blanket on greaseproof paper, the other would use my old method of simply rolling the wool up round the leaves and tying it with string that had been soaked in iron solution. The first was sprayed with white vinegar, a method frequently mentioned on the facebook group, then it was simmered in water. 
The second was heated in a plant dye bath made by simmering a bunch of dried meadowsweet, with a teaspoon of soda ash to alkalinise it. I expected an olive green background from meadowsweet and iron, rather surprised to see that gingery colour when I pulled it out of the dye bath this morning and stood it in the sun to dry. The mystery of the iron blanket bundle is, of course, hidden by its greaseproof paper wrapping. Today is Wednesday. I shall be strong and leave them both til Friday before unrolling.

Hmmpf, sigh. You may as well stop reading here. The mystery of the clearcut, deep green chestnut leaf print has not been resolved. 

This morning I unrolled my meadowsweet and alkali bath bundle, which had dulled down near to the expected olive green overall colour while drying out. There were wiggly iron string prints, nice red marks from some bits of fresh madder root, the vaguest of pale green stamps from the chestnut leaves and a modest print from a young bracken frond. Even the hardy geranium leaves hadn't grabbed enough iron to make a decent print.
How about the iron blanket and vinegar bundle?
Only marginally better colour from horse chestnut leaves. Bugger all prints from acer leaves and cotinus, though these are often shown used to great effect on the photos on facebook. 
Maybe I should try steaming the bundles, or pay for one of those online courses. Or just wait til my proper dye plants have grown this summer.

Time for a bacon sandwich and a day of planting out in the garden. Perhaps I'll do some embroidery on these this evening, while the cloth is still ridged by the leaf skeletons.