Monday, October 28, 2013

Just the Good Bits

Last week was much like any other week in my life of late. I knitted, foraged, visited with family, created, tried new things, and went apple picking. Ok, I don't go apple picking every week but I am so glad I did this week.

In my last post I lamented on and on about having too many ideas keeping me up at night and not always knowing how to balance life with so many awesome things to do. Awful problem isn't? It's ok, I know how lucky I am every single day to be home creating. So I decided I needed to start to organize my thought process into more of a flow chart, alter my habits so that creating, cleaning, living, all of it, can just all flow together and live in harmony:) I'm trying. That is until I new idea is sparked while vacuuming. Down goes the vacuum, up comes needle and thread. 

At the beginning of October I created this little journal for myself to help me remember just the good bits of each and every day. So, every night when I climb into my fluffy marshmallow bed, I jot down all of the bits of light that made me smile through out the day. I love looking back on it and remembering these small moments that fill my heart with so much joy. I also love it because its so easy to forget the next day when I have a million things I want to do. I want to not loose sight of the little things that gave me such a heaping spoonful of love and laughter through out the day. Like how I heard my youngest nephew Jude say my name for the first time, seeing my father twice in one day, having a meaningful conversation with two islanders on the way home, and finally not fumbling fingers going from the open E to the 3rd A on my violin. 

The following photos are a sampling of good bits....

Embroidery becomes me. As much as I've been obsessed with mushroom foraging and dyeing, I've been obsessed with trying to find time to embroider some of my favorite things. Below is the beginning of a series of Irish counties I will have available in my etsy shop in a few weeks. Each county in Irish. 

Oh yard sales, how I love thee.... several weeks ago I asked my dear husband if he might have any spare copper bits and bobs laying around in his endless supply of hardware in our basement. He wasn't sure but wrote a note to himself and stuck it on our cupboard for several more weeks. Then while passing through Hollis the other day, we found this. !!!!! What in the world?? You might ask. It's for dyeing:) I'll be soaking these bits in order to create a copper liquor to use as a second choice in mordanting the fibers and yarns I dye with plants. 

Progress on the Uptown Boot Socks. The pattern is from this book.  I love this book and this is the 5th pattern I've knitted. It's a super simple cable pattern and I've been using nature spun in lemon. 

Progress on the painting of our home. Your eyes or computer screen do not fool you. That is pink you are looking at. The top shingles only have the primer on. The dormers are still in the first color I choose- I've gone 3 shades lighter. But the pink on the siding is staying. It looks so beautiful in the light, exactly what I've pictured. And after all the hemming and hawing and consulting of family, I knew deep down it was exactly what I wanted. 

This is my attempt at using the new panoramic feature on the iphone 4s with the new operating system. It's fun but fickle. My view on the commute route.  

Collected more mushrooms a while back from my sisters and this time doing a spore print. Which I love doing. It's like magic seeing what comes out. Though these two prints give different colors, I still think they must be the same just different ages. Still need to polish up my mushroom identifying skills. 

Love this pink stem. 

The time finally came where I caved and decided to try to dye blueberries. In every workshop I have done for natural dyeing, I am asked (or sometimes told) about blueberries used as a dye because they must for the staining they usually leave behind! Finally put this to the test and found interesting results. 

I had 2 1/2 pints shriveling in the back of my fridge. But don't worry, I also have many pints in my freezer. 10 maybe? I love the idea of experimenting with food waste but not perfectly good food. So here it goes. 

I started one vat by soaking the blue berries in water and heating for 3 hours. After it cooled the next day, I strained out the berries, added the liquid to my dye vessel, added mordant, my pre soaked yarns, and a silk hankie. 

Now this silk hankie turned out to be the most interesting part of this experiment. I first soak it in the cold blueberry bath. 

Look at that color! This is after a slight rinse and hung to dry.


But then I had to do something silly and put it in the heat. After it was dried again, the color changed very much. Also, the bolder color above is with out mordant. 

I also created a second dye bath from the blueberries agin, this time cold soaking this Shetland wool for a day. I did a rinse test and no color stuck. I then slowly heated the vat for 3 hours keeping the temp between 160-180 and no color... Except it did alter the natural color. It left the wool a very pale off gray.... And the silk hanky, well it became even more grey in the day light. 

Three things that could have changed the color:
-cold vs. heat
-no alum vs alum
-no after soak vs after soak in mrs. Meyers lavender dish soap. A soap I use often for that after ph balancing adjustment. 

I look forward to working on why the color dulled. Could it have stayed that vibrant color? Or is it just the characteristic of the blueberry? Also, these were organic and no pesticides where used- which would, I'm sure alter final colors. 

Elsa. Our cutie who loves her belly rubbed. 

I started this Winter Leaves scarf using my own Shetland handspun yarn. It will soon be available in my etsy shop. Which will go beautifully with the Winter Leaves Hat.

Reflection from the lace curtain in my studio.

The studio as of late. Yarns and threads every where. 

This happens every time. Every time I say I'm done with mushroom foraging this year, I come across these while walking from the ferry to the car. 

The three black capped mushrooms below are called Phallus ravenelii. Very distinctive in appearance and odor. I think they smell like fresh flowers. The husband does not. The four above *just may be* Russet- scaly Tricholoma. My resource book here is very dated though. These top four I found in the ground and where completely dried. The black caps where not and are drying below in the basement. Soon soon soon! I will be cooking up pots left and right for the mushrooms and will post all results here. 

My lichen babies, I mean jars are doing well. I have 6 going now and shake them every morning. When I remember to I bring two of them outside, open them up for an airing in hopes of developing the color further. So far I have collections from Bailey's Island, Peaks Island, Eastern Promenade here in Portland, and Inish Maan, Ireland. Oh! And Squam lake, New Hampshire. Those are the two I air out. You can see them in the to the right, toad skin lichen or Umbilicaria papulosa and a black potato chip lichen. Still trying to find the name for. These two are taking on a deep earthy red color. The brighter jars in the center and to the left are all Xanthoria which I've learned are UV sensitive and why I do not set them outside as the colors will fade. 

My oldest sibling turned 40 last week and we all came together to celebrate with some cake. It was such a fun time and I laughed so hard reminiscing about how we used to listen to the Jerky Boys. Oh Gawd!! Watching my nieces and nephews play and such a nice time catching up with everyone. 

Capturing Elsa sleeping with her eye open... Kind of creepy. 

Jubal and I finally made it to his favorite orchard, Ravenhill Orchard. They grow organic apples including his favorite, the Black Oxford apple. It's a small variety with a hint of plum. Very tasty. 

This may be a type of polypore?

This may be another polypore, Coriolus versicolor? 


I found a wooly caterpillar. Something I haven't seen since I was a kid. I loved finding these little fuzzy creatures. 

Cider press scraps. It just accorded to me that these apple scraps might make an interesting dye. The thing is, it has been my experience and belief that anything flora speaking will give a dye. It just depends on the fiber, water content, water temp, mordant, and time. That reminds me, I also collected 3 types of apple wood from the ground for dyeing. And some dark rust colored weeds:)


These are my pair of Orchard fingerless mitts I finished a few weeks ago. Made from my own handspun Maine island fleece, dyed with madder and lichen. Something I may be writing a pattern for shortly. 

Of course when it was all over, I had to sample a homemade donut. Oh! It just melted in my mouth! 

Thanks for reading about my good bits. If you have some good bits you'd like to share, please leave a comment below:)

ox, r

p.s. a tiny little thing I forgot to mention, geeze! how could I forgot?! I've been featured in one of Ireland's most popular crafting blogs, michellemadethis.com. Michelle Fallon is a full time crafter and blogger living in Roscommon living the dream of crafting. She has been featured in publications and television in Ireland. I first came in contact with Michelle while Jubal and I were in Ireland for our honeymoon last spring. I had heard of and was planning on attending the May Roscommon Lamb Festival and Michelle was one of the contact people. I rang her up one day to get more info on what it was all about. You can read more about the day at the lamb festival here. It has been lovely getting to know Michelle and keeping in touch with her. In the very near future, I will be featuring herself here at my blog, so keep a look out:)  






























2 comments:

Karen Schneider said...

You are a "good bit" in my life, Rachel!

Rachel Bingham Kessler said...

:) Thanks Mom <3