nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for September 2014

harvesting colour – blackberry red and pink

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Autumn is officially here; summer up and left last week.  My complaints are suddenly of chilly evenings, not too-warm nights!  But with this season comes a series of dyeing projects I have been looking forward to – dyeing with berries and autumn leaves.

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berries harvested at our cabin in 2013

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At our summer property, we have blackberries in profusion.  They ripen slowly over a period of three weeks and we eat our fill.  This year I decided to sacrifice a few for the dye pot.

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Dyeing with berries is easy.  I brought three cups of berries to a simmer in three liters of water for about an hour.  The strained liquid was a bright red, the colour of ripe cranberries …

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dye from blackberries

dye from blackberries

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I dyed alum-treated wool with a slow simmer and an overnight soak.  The result was a pale pink, a welcome addition to my collection of ‘mostly brown’ …

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pink wool dyed with blackberries is front and center ... other wools are dyed with (clockwise) oak, meadowsweet, bugleweed, tansy, lily-of-the-valley, beet root, and in the center, carrot tops

pink wool dyed with blackberries is front and center … other wools are dyed with (clockwise) oak (dark brown), meadowsweet (orange), bugleweed (brown), tansy (gold), lily-of-the-valley (grey), and beet root (deep pink), and in the center, carrot tops (green)

 

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I also tried dying linen and cotton with the blackberry dye, and these gave me the burgundy I had hoped for …

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back left to front: wool, linen, cotton and another cotton, dyed with blackberries

back left to front: wool, linen, cotton and another cotton, dyed with blackberries

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I think I will be using the pink/burgundy cotton as the backing for the small ‘harvesting colour’ quilt I plan to make.  I’ll hem the linen and use it in my kitchen.

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March 18, 2012 ‘blackberries’ Jane Tims

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Copyright 2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

September 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

a Heidi picnic

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When I was a child, one of my favorite books was Johanna Spyri’s Heidi.  I loved reading about Heidi and Peter’s trips to the alpine meadow to watch over the goats.  And I loved the simplicity of their dinner … milk and cheese and bread.  My favorite picnic lunch is a version of theirs and I always think of it as a ‘Heidi Picnic’.

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A week ago, my husband and I took a short vacation in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  We followed the Route des Sommets, a trail of roadways through the elevations of the Quebec Appalachians …

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view along the Route des Sommets in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

view along the Route des Sommets in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

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We admired the architecture of the churches – spires and rose windows …

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Catholic church in East Angus, Quebec

Catholic church in East Angus, Quebec

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and we sampled the local food, squeaky cheese curds, herbed cheese, sweet honey, crisp Lobo apples, and yeasty artisan bread … our Heidi picnic …

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our Heidi picnic in Quebec

our Heidi picnic in Quebec

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 22, 2014 at 7:16 am

star gazing comfort

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Usually in mid-August, we go out for an evening or two to get a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower.  This annual meteor shower is the result of the Earth’s passage through the Perseid cloud, debris of the comet Swift-Tuttle.  This year I sat at the end of our driveway on the evening predicted to be the peak of the shower and saw one bright and very sparkly meteor streaking from overhead toward the south-east.

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I have waited a while to do this post because I wanted to take a particular photo.  Last week, I finally saw the item I wanted, an old couch put out on the lawn.  I wrote the poem below in mid-August several years ago, after I saw a group of students sitting on just such a couch, presumably waiting to see the meteor shower.

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abandoned sofa on a lawn

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sofa on the lawn

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seemed a fine idea

comfy spot to watch

the Perseids do

their August light show

but

clouded over

we ran indoors

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the sofa became

a sponge to sop the rain

a field mouse free-for-all

dog-eared page

from a promising read

worse smell than fleece soaked

in skunky ale

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epic fail

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'a comet'

May 4, 2012 ‘a comet’ Jane Tims

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

September 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

glimpses of country life – drying day

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For the last two weeks, I have continued on my stationary bike, touring (virtually) through the Cornwall countryside.  Since I last reported, I have gone from Rinsey Croft to the coastal town of Prussia Cove.  Since the road does not run along the coast, I have spent most of my biking miles travelling on short roads from the highway to various coastal towns.  In this stretch, I biked for 150 minutes, and saw about 9 km of the Cornwall countryside.

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Rinsey to Prussia Cove

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As I bike, I love seeing the vignettes of country life captured by Street View.  Gates, of course, and stone walls.  Cows and horses grazing in the meadows.  People hiking along the roads and working in their gardens.  And a line of washing, hung out on the line to dry.

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September 7, 2014  'drying day'  acrylic 20 X 24  Jane Tims

September 7, 2014 ‘drying day’ acrylic 20 X 24 Jane Tims

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Reminds me of home.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

harvesting colour – oak and iron

with 4 comments

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As autumn approaches, I intend to shift my ‘harvesting colour’ experiments to ‘fall themes’.  I want to colour wool with ripe berries, autumn leaves and acorns.  I decided to begin with oak leaves.  They are still green here in New Brunswick, but I associate the oak tree, strong and ‘knowing’, with the maturity of fall.  I picked leaves from the Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) by our garage, a tree begun naturally, probably from an acorn buried by our squirrel population.

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The dye in the pot was pale brown … I was certain the wool would be another shade of brown.  Hoping for variety, I added a liter of my iron acetate (horseshoe, nail and vinegar mix) and left the wool to simmer.  I forgot it on the stove, running to save it after a couple of hours.  And what I pulled from the dye water was amazing, a dark brown, almost black, length of wool roving.

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dark brown, almost black, wool, alum treated and simmered with oak leaf dye and iron acetate

dark brown, almost black, wool, alum treated and simmered with oak leaf dye and iron acetate

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Spun, it makes a lovely counterpoint to my yellow and light brown wools.

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spun wool, dyed with Goldenrod (yellow), Meadowsweet (peach) and Oak leaves/iron modifier (dark brown)

spun wool, dyed with Goldenrod (yellow), Meadowsweet (peach) and Oak leaves/iron modifier (dark brown)

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I am almost ready for my weaving project.  I have decided to arrange the bands of colour in alphabetical order so, in future, I will be able to better recall the plants used to make the dye.   When I look at the woven runner, I will remember harvesting the oak leaves from our tree and the excitement of seeing the dark wool lift from the pot.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 10, 2014 at 7:03 am

dry gourds

with 4 comments

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string of dried gourds

string of dried gourds

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dry gourds

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shake

bottle and swan

goblin egg and warted

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absorb the rhythm

the rattle of seeds

in their shells

varnished, on a chord

between cupboards

strand of amber

hardened with hanging

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a nudge in humidity, the least

damp, breath

or sigh, softens

vibration, appreciation

of percussion

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August 31, 2013  'squash on the vine #3'   Jane Tims

August 31, 2013 ‘squash on the vine #3’ Jane Tims

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Copyright 2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 8, 2014 at 7:20 am

harvesting colour – saddening the colour

with 2 comments

Most of my experiments with natural dyes have been straightforward – collect the dyestuff, extract the dye with heat and water, and simmer the fibres in the dye.  I have used alum as a mordent to make the dye more permanent, but until now,  I have not used modifiers to change the colour of the dye.  Modifiers include various substances added to modify the chemistry of the dye solution and change the colours obtained.  Iron is one of the most commonly used modifiers.

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To modify colour with iron, the dyer can use ferrous sulfate as a powder.  Or rusty iron can be used to make an iron acetate solution.  To make my iron modifier, I put an old horseshoe, a square nail and a rail spike in a pot, added some vinegar, and soaked the metal in rainwater for a month.

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bits of iron to make an iron modifier

bits of iron to make an iron modifier

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Simmering the wool roving with water and dyestuff of Meadowsweet gave the wool an apricot colour.  Then I added a couple of liters of my iron mixture to the dye pot and a new length of wool roving.  The second lot of wool turned out darker than the first.  Dyers refer to this as ‘saddening’ the colour.  The wool was also more coarse and after I had spun the wool, my hands were stained with a reddish rust.

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saddening the colour: on the left, alum-treated wool dyed with Meadowsweet; on the right, the same with added iron

saddening the colour: on the left, alum-treated wool dyed with Meadowsweet; on the right, the same with added iron

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Next post, I will show you the surprising results when I add my iron modifier to dyestuff of oak leaves!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 3, 2014 at 7:13 am

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