We have a neighborhood yahoo group that we use for everything from finding a lost cat to fighting the use of Round-up at our neighborhood park. Just this week I posted a request for honey bee swarms and a piano. I can’t say enough great things about the group or this neighborhood!
So, a while back I posted my need for a large stock pot in which to brew natural dyes. I got a response from a neighbor I had never met but I had certainly noticed her house before. She often puts out a pair of scissors on a string in the middle of her blooming front yard Lavender enticing passersby to cut some some flowers for themselves. The kids and I had gathered lavender with those scissors in the past and always looked forward to the next year when we could harvest more amongst the buzzing honey bees.
She said she had an old canning pot she wasn’t using anymore and that it might be just the thing for me. I walked down to her house to meet her and check out the pot. A couple of hours later I walked back home with my new pot in hand. She and I had gotten into a conversation about her travels around the world. She had recently returned from Uzbekistan where she had seen some beautiful work with natural dyes. She had purchased a few things that were just stunning. You can see the variation in color from one plant dye batch to the next. It was inspiring to say the least.
I had just pruned the Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) in the front yard and knew it was a dye plant (one of 25 here at the ol’ homestead). I had some undyed wool yarn and a couple of thrift shop shirts I had bought to wear in the garden. One was striped with pink and purple and the other was white. After mordanting them with alum I put them in a bath of Toyon leaves and twigs. I was pleased with the results. The striped shirt caught the eye of a friend who now wears it. The peach shirt I wear in the garden and the yarn awaits a project.
A couple of days ago I had decided to write about this and needed to call that neighbor with the pot to ask if it was Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan she told me about. Then, she appeared at the door bearing a bucket of snails. How nice!