Oct 12

I have the finalized list for Dye Day.  I have been working since early morning getting most of the dyes set up and, at least, started.


Weld – nice, bright sunny yellow with alum mordant.  It is now soaking in water and will be until tomorrow night when I get it jugged up.

juniper berries

Juniper Berries with alum – should give us some yellowy greens.  This is the first year I have tried these.


Annatto seeds with washing soda.  I am going to do this as a cold dye this year, rather than reheating it over the fire.

fustic sawdust

Fustic with alum – will give a nice, clear yellow, but with an iron modifier, will give a nice green color.

There have been some questions on Twitter about using Everclear and exactly what is Everclear.


Everclear is as close to pure grain alcohol that I can find – it’s 190 proof or 95% alcohol.  This bottle cost me $18, but the difference it makes with woody dyes makes it worth it.

osage orange sawdust

Osage Orange sawdust dry and ready for the Everclear.  Osage Orange with alum gives a nice slighty greenish yellow which overdyes with indigo to give a great grass green.

osage orange soaking

Osage Orange with 1/2 bottle of Everclear added.  It soaked up the liquid pretty quickly.

brazilwood sawdust

Brazilwood sawdust – this is pretty finely ground stuff.  With alum, it will give a pinky magenta down to salmons and with copper, it will give purples down to lavenders.


Look at that color change just by adding in the Everclear.  It, too, soaked up the liquid pretty quickly.


I’ve loosely covered them and will take the covers off tomorrow morning and stir several times during the day to thoroughly oxidize the dye materials.  Then, I’ll bag them up and let them soak tomorrow night in prep for Dye Day.

Others that are soaking and ready for the pots are: walnuts, Black Oak Bark, 2 bags of finely ground cochineal (one for scarlet and one for purple), and 2 bags of turmeric (one for yellow-orange and one for a deep olive).  That just leaves prepping the indigo vat tomorrow.

Because the weather is supposed to be so lovely on Monday (high of 71 and partly cloudy) Scott and I decided to forego putting up the canopies.  There are lots of shade trees, so we really won’t need them.  That will make clean-up much easier on Monday.

So, for those of you planning to come to Dye Day on Monday, you can use the list of dyes above to get your samples ready.  I’ve tried to give you lots of different colors to play with, but remember, there is always the choice of overdyeing parts of yarn skeins to give you an even better range of colors.

Tomorrow is going to be another busy day.  I am about half way finished with the dye set up, so tomorrow is going to be another early start.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Oct 11

Well, I do not have enough Logwood for Dye Day, so that one is out, but I am adding in Juniper Berries, Fustic and Annatto seeds.  I have had Annatto seeds before, but this year I am going to do it slightly different and do is as a cold dye rather than reheating it over the fires.

Juniper Berries crushed and boiled for several hours will extract the colors, then I’ll add in alum for the mordant and have an iron modifier available for those who would like to play with shifting the colors from  gold to a nice yellowish green.

Fustic with alum and an iron modifier changes the color from sunny yellow to a really sweet green, so we can give that a try.

The Annatto seeds are going to be cooked down with soda ash, let sit over night and strained out.  Then this will stay unheated for dye day.  With alum as the mordant, it will give a nice peachy-orange and with an iron modifier, it can shift to a nice orangey-brown.

The fact that these can be shifted with an iron modifier after dyeing means people can have skeins that are half one color and half another for making their own variegated yarns.

Tomorrow is cooking down day as well as set up day at the Hart/Markle farm.  It’s going to be a long day, but I am looking forward to it.

In case you want to know where I get my dye information and recipes, I basically use two books.  One is J.N. Liles’ “The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing” and the other is Jenny Dean’s “Wild Color.” Both of these books are my favorite go-to books as the recipes are well, written and easy to follow.  Dean’s book is terrific for beginners as she explains everything someone new to natural dyes needs to know to safely get the colors one wants.  Mr. Liles’ book is more advanced and would be better for those who have experimented some and want to go deeper into the art.


Oct 10

Beginning tomorrow, I will be spending all waking hours working toward Dye Day on Monday Oct 14th. For those of you who are planning to come, my list of dyes is currently looking like this:

Indigo – 2 vats, one for blue and one to over dye other colors

Weld – bright yellow

Osage Orange – a slightly greenish yellow that overdyes beautifully with indigo for a great grass green.

Onion skins (mix of orange and purple) – a great brassy gold color

Cochineal with tin – scarlet

Cochineal with copper – purple

Walnut with iron – dark brown

Logwood – purples to browns

Brazilwood with alum – magentas to peaches

Turmeric – scream orangey-yellow

Black Oak Bark – bright yellow (overdyed with cochineal with tin should give a hunter orange)

I am toying around with a couple of other dyes to add to the mix, but I am still doing my research on them.  I’ll let you know in a day or two the finalized list.

If you are a sheep breeder in or around Pendleton, Indiana, and would like to bring fleeces to sell, please do.  Also, the Trading Post for Fiber Arts will be open for those of you needing yarn or fiber to dye (Susan also carries the most luxurious spinning fibers like cashmere, baby camel, yak, silk blends, too) as well as yarn, books or supplies for other projects.  You really need to check out what she has because her selection is fantastic!

Also, bring your spinning wheel, knitting, bobbin lace stuff, etc., to work on while your fiber cooks.  There will be canopies to sit under for shade and we love seeing what you are working on.

Here are the instructions for preparing your fiber or yarn for Dye Day.  Remember to bring smaller samples to dye at first to give everyone a chance to play with the colors (each pot will be set up to dye about 1 pound of fiber total), but once everyone has their samples, you can dye larger quantities until the dye pots are exhausted. As the colors in the pots diminish, several give pastel shades or the colors can change altogether as the main colors are reduced.  If you are a rug hooker, please bring fat quarters to dye at first, but then you can dye larger pieces later to get other shades.

Last year we ran out of stuff to dye before the indigo was all gone, so bring extra items to plunk into the indigo vats and watch the magic as the colors shift from yellow-green to blues.

Also, remember that this is an outdoor-over-open-fires event, so please dress accordingly.  Homeschool groups are very welcome to come, but children under school age aren’t encouraged due to the fires and pots of boiling water.  The last thing I want is a child to be burned or scalded accidentally.

The lunch is a pitch-in, so bring something to share.  I will be providing paper plates, plasticware, cups and bottled water.

This is a free to the public event (there will be a donations box to help pay for dyes for next year if you want to help keep this event going), so bring your friends and get them hooked on natural dyeing as well.  It begins at 10AM and finishes up sometime between 3 and 4.  For the best colors, get there early because once the pots exhaust, that’s it for that pot.

Come, get messy and have lots of fun!  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.


Oct 8

Nutmeg Knitter had a post about making a list of things you grew up with, and I think that is a fun idea, so here is a list of things I grew up with.  I think it is interesting to see how each decade seems to have its own things to remember.

Barbie’s Dream Camper
Johnny West Buckboard Wagon with horse
Shawn Cassidy
Battlestar Galactica (original series)
Milking cows
Looking for kittens in the hay loft (and finding them!)
Trying to gather eggs from beneath a broody hen (and not get pecked)
Riding bikes around the block (7 miles in my case)
Looking for pop bottles to return and buying candy with the proceeds.
Cleaning out the spring that fed the pond every spring
Gathering hickory nuts with my grandfather
Going fishing
Going camping
Going for long walks across neighboring fields in the fog
Nancy Drew books
Wheelhorse mower
Breyer Horses
The Blizzard of 1977-78
Playing the clarinet
Band Camp
Learning to drive on a stick shift
Dr. Scholl’s Sandles
Feathered bangs

That’s all I can think of right now, but each of those items bring back vivid memories.  What list of items can you think of from your childhood?

Oct 7

Saturday was the Gluten Free Food Expo in Carmel, Indiana, and Scott and I went to it.  We know not to eat before hand and expect to be too full to eat afterwards when we go to one of these and this year was no exception.  I wanted to take pictures while we were there, but it was very crowded.  Still, I managed to get some wonderful pasta sauce (which is now in a lovely chicken and pasta dish) as well as some strawberry balsamic vinegar.  We also tried several pizzas, pastas, breads, brownies and cupcakes.  We don’t eat a lot of sweets, but we do miss pizza.  I got cards and information from all of the items we liked and found out that most are sold at Nature’s Pharm or Whole Foods around here.

It rained all weekend, so no getting outside, so we worked inside the rest of the weekend.  I am gearing up for Dye Day (a week from today) and Scott is trying his best to get the next Graphic Novel ready for printing by the end of this year.  Besides the chicken/pasta dish, I made sweet and sour pork over brown rice and still have some chicken breasts I want to marinate in the strawberry balsamic vinegar to cook later this week.

I did get to work on the blanket a little, and it is growing bit by bit.  I think another 5-6 stripes and it will be wide enough for a twin-sized bed.


Scott helped me spread it out so you can see better what it looks like.  Using the cable needles as extra long dpns is makes this much easier to do.

I am teaching tonight and tomorrow night and Wednesday night is my knitting group, then it will be solid Dye Day prep through Sunday, followed by Dye Day, Day Day clean up, and a trip to Moontree to be videotaped for the three classes I am teaching there before driving all the way back down to Greenwood to teach a class.  Thursday I am going to be tuckered, but I’ll have to go back to work that day.  Whew!  After Saturday, it is less running around, but will be back to working on dyeing and other prep for next year’s fiber show schedule.

It’s a good thing I love what I do.


Oct 3

I worked another hour on the ever-growing blanket last night and I still have a row to go before I finish the magenta stripe.  I am looking fondly back on the time when I could finish a whole stripe in an hour.  Sigh…  🙂

Because it was getting so bunchy on the 48″ circular needle, I have placed each side on a separate circular needle and am knitting with a 5th one.  So, it’s like knitting with double-points but much longer.  It’s nice to be able to stretch it out and see how the square is developing.  And, with less tugging, pulling and rearranging stitches around one cable as I go, the knitting has sped up somewhat.  Still slow, but not as slow.  I got 2.5 rows done in that hour rather than just 2.

Let me tell you about a program I am watching on YouTube as I knit.  It’s called Victorian Farming, and it is about these three people who live a year as Victorian farmers in the latter part of the 19th century in England.  They dress the part, eat the part, and raise animals and crops and use equipment that was available at that time.  It is fascinating!!

I love it so much that I am giving you the link to the first of six episodes.  The rest are easy to find from there, but, seriously, if you are in the least interested in how farmers in rural England lived over a century ago, you need to watch this.

There is also a program you can watch there called Victorian Pharmacy that I will be watching next. I have no idea what this one is about, but if it is similar to Victorian Farming, then it will be just and informational and interesting.

Knitting round and round on a blanket is boring, and I do not watch typical TV (I have always found that 99% of the shows out there are pretty inane and even more boring than knitting a giant’s blanket in garter stitch), but watching something that is both educational and entertaining is different.  Watching these is like getting an education!  In fact, there is so much useful information to a person living today (did you know that milk will get ink out of clothing easily?) that I am seriously thinking about rewatching them and taking notes as I go.

And, as long as it is going to take me to knit this blanket, I will get quite an education.  Win-win in my book!




Oct 2

I am still working hard on the blanket, but I am going to have to get longer circular needles as this is quickly out-growing the ones I borrowed from Sandy.


Searching for the textured stitches for the every other stripe is fun!  Right now, it is about 1/2 the size for the width of the bed.  It’s taking me about 1/2 an hour to knit one row, so it’s going to go much slower from here on until I get the width done.  Then, I’ll put the side rows onto stitch holders of some sort and just go back and forth with the top and bottom until it is long enough.  At that point, I want to knit a border all the way around, probably in seed stitch.  This has gone from a good way to use left over yarns from other projects to a stash buster project.  I’d like to have no two stripes the same color, but I also don’t want to buy yarn for this project.  We’ll see if I make it.

I think I am going to call this the “Hip to be Square” blanket.

Oct 1

Finally, I am posting the Q’s and R’s for you.

Let’s start with the Q’s.  I decided to open up my cedar chest and focus on the Quilts I have in there.  Some are well over 150 years of age, one is only about 20 and one isn’t done, yet.

butterfly quilt

This Butterfly Quilt was made by my maternal grandmother for my high school graduation.  It covered my bed through college and up until about 10 years ago when it began to show more than a few signs of wear and I retired it.  It will go down to one of my nieces.

albub quilt

This quilt was made for my maternal grandmother by her mother and all of their neighbors, family, friends, teachers, etc.  You see, my maternal grandparents eloped, so her mom had everyone pitch in and do blocks for an album quilt for the newlyweds.  In fact, that lower block that says Father Mother Gillum?  That was done my my great-grandmother.  This quilt was done in 1939.  Everyone got together a had a quilting bee and quilted it, too.  This is a very special quilt and I remember Mammaw showing it to me when I was about 10 or so, and I remember telling her that when she died, I wanted it.  I have promised it to my oldest niece, Kim.  But, Kim?  You are going to have to wait a very long time for it because I’m not going anywhere for at least 50 more years. 🙂

drunkard's path

This Drunkard’s Path quilt was made by Mammaw’s oldest sister’s daughter, Mae Frances.  Mae was about a year younger than Mammaw and was only 9 months old when her own mother died of TB.  Mae was raised by my great-grandparents and was more like a sister to Mammaw than a niece.  Mae also was one of my absolute favorite cousins and I loved visiting her.  She was always piecing a quilt – and I mean that.  I do not remember a time when she wasn’t.  She made this for Scott and I and I have started quilting it.  One day I hope to go back to it and get it all finished.

grandmother's flower garden

This quilt was made for me by my paternal grandmother – the one who just turned 100 years old.  I realized it had never been on a bed, so I decided to remedy that and it is going on my bed tonight.  I’ll sleep under it for a few years, then set it aside for another niece.

Now to Scott’s side of the family.

double wedding ring

This is one of the quilts that is over 150 years old.  It, and those following, came from Scott’s maternal grandmother’s family.  Scott’s grandmother knew I loved family quilts and she knew I would take good care of them.  Obviously, this one is Double Wedding Ring.

old quilt2

I think this quilt is called Cathedral Windows… Or it could be Orange Peel.  It, too, is over 150 years of age.

old quilt

As is this quilt, but I have no idea what it is called.  Cindy?  Do you know?

Now, on to the R’s.


Raindrops on a baby maple tree.


Ramses the Ram.


Wee clay Rabbits.  And I do mean wee – they are about .5″ – .75″ tall.


Rapscallion.  Look at that face!  Isn’t he just the handsomest cat you ever saw?  Okay, maybe I’m biased, but I do love this cat.

Acorn to Oak Q pictures

Delighted Hands Q pictures

Eweniquely Ewe Q pictures

My Yellow Swing Q pictures and R pictures

Sanna’s Bag


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