Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Garden Visitors

We are lucky to have a large garden and could spend hours watching visitors to it, butterflies and birds of several kinds, dragonflies and bees, robins and wrens, as well as red kites overhead making their daily circuits.
For some time now we have been listening to a pair of goldfinches singing at evening time, in the birch  tree of our neighbours.
Today I saw them flying back wards and forwards across our garden. Then one had a beak full of fluff. Maybe it was some of the fleece I had left out for nesting early in the year? No. They were collecting thistle down from one side of the garden and taking it to a very tall variegated shrub near the house. This shrub was blown over by the winter storms and is now propped up by several stout lengths of timber, in the hops that it may grow roots to stabilise itself before next winter.
After they had made many trips, collecting loads of fluff each time, I looked into the bush and saw a very small nest, smaller than a coffee cup, from below, looking rather like a mud ball and rather difficult to spot.

They seem to be resting now. After all it is a hot day. Or maybe she has started to lay her precious eggs.
Black birds and blue tits have reared their young in our hedges for some years, so perhaps now we have a third pair who will regularly build their nurseries on our patch. I very much hope so.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Solar Dyeing

Although I mainly use synthetic dyes for my weaving yarn and spinning fibre, I have long liked the look of yarns that are naturally dyed. I don't think it is a method for me when making items to sell. The weaving takes long enough!
Since we have a greenhouse that is used mainly to store garden 'thing' I have taken to use it for solar dyeing a quick, if less predictable, way of natural dyeing.
This picture is some yarn that I removed from a jar today. The large skein was in a solar jar with madder at the bottom and onion skins at the top, hence the two colours on the yarn. The small skein has been dyed with saffron. I have left the wool that was with it in the jar. It was much paler, but there was still dye colour in the liquid, so it may get a deeper shade.
 I have just set up the next two jars today. In the left one wool is layered with Buddleia flowers and the one on the right with coreopsis.
 The jar in front of this picture is the madder and onion skins. At the back left dried flowers and back right eucalyptus bark and golden rod flower tops. I have just made these up this afternoon so I will have to wait a couple of weeks to get an idea of the colour they will produce.
The green skein was dyed with honesty and primula flowers, the centre skein and silk scarf with eucalyptus bark.