In one very productive week and with help from Bill and friends, my willow crop is cut, sorted, and the long rods have been cleaved and coiled for skeining next year.
The time to harvest willow for basketry is generally when the plant is dormant. I like to cut my beds in late November — after the leaves have dropped but before the snow starts to pile up. Last year’s crop I harvested late so I could peel the willow after the buds broke in spring. That worked really well, but other uncertainties make it better for me to harvest in fall. So we’re trying another method generously shared by Dawn Walden.
Continue reading Willow Harvest
If we didn’t have an annual studio open house I would probably never get my windows washed. The cleaner version of my work space only lasts a short time. But for one weekend a year, Bill and I return to our retail roots.
We enjoy visiting with friend and hearing their questions and comments about our work. They give us lots of good ideas! This year, we extended our hours to include Friday afternoon as well as Saturday. It helped spread out the traffic and I think made it easier for us to talk with just about everyone who came.
Continue reading Holiday Sales Begin
Thank goodness for cell phone cameras! Things moved really fast at Sievers last month, with eight students working independently in a natural dye workshop.
Good thing I had snapshots to help jog my memory a month later (first chance I’ve had to post). Continue reading Sievers Natural Dye Retreat
Our annual holiday studio sale is this weekend, which means the next few days will be a flurry of pricing and tagging products to sell, cleaning my working studio (which truly needs it), and transforming that space into a comfortable place to shop.
It never feels like I’m quite ready, but this year especially feels like a lot of things have slipped through my fingers. Including the typo in the image above. But after being gone for three weeks in October, I feel like it’s an achievement just to be wearing clean underwear.
Continue reading November Means Studio Sale
It’s been a month of dye-soak-rinse-and-repeat here, with a bit of ironing for variety and one short break to teach an intro to natural dyes workshop.But being mostly home for a while has let me make some serious progress on preparing for our annual studio sale in November and sampling more bark dye extractions.
Continue reading September Means Dyeing, Naturally
Yesterday I finally managed to dye yarn with my first indigo Sig vat. It was almost another failed experiment. And as usual, I probably learned more because of that.
Here are the results after one dip on white wool (right) and over sumac to make the green. Continue reading An Unconventional Indigo Sig Vat
My latest attempt at an organic vat from fresh-leaf homegrown Japanese indigo has me singing the blues — the pale, grayish, stinky blues. And while this batch of yarn counts as a dye fail, I learned some things getting here.
The yarns look better than they really are, but there’s no point letting them dry out for a photo. I’ll keep changing the water until the odor is gone, then overdye them. Probably in a fresh-leaf vat reduced with Thiox. Because it’s the end of August, which in northern Wisconsin means our growing season could end in six weeks or six days.
Continue reading Singing The Fresh Leaf Blues
Having never taken organic chemistry, dyeing with plants I grow or gather is often instructive, sometimes bewildering, and always a bit magical.
My recent experiments with homegrown Japanese indigo and invasive buckthorn have been all of above.
Continue reading Organic Chemistry: Indigo And Buckthorn
Natural dye material is ready to harvest just about everywhere you turn here in rural northern Wisconsin, where I’m snipping as fast as I can. It’s nice to have a reason to slow down for a bit and enjoy dyeing with a friend.
The angel who started my Japanese indigo last spring came over yesterday morning. We combined leaves snipped from her plants and mine and had a nice visit while the pot warmed gently over a two-hour period.
Continue reading Snipping My Way To Color
The last time I cut bulrush where we went today to harvest was about 10 years ago. I never harvest much in any one spot. My goal is always that when I leave, my activity should be undetectable and not diminish the resource in any way. But today I took out more than my share — of leeches.
In the past when the lake level was lower, Bill and I just waded in and cut here and there. With some heavy rains this summer, lake levels are higher.
Continue reading Gathering Bulrush And Leeches