This summer I have been taken with dyeing and I bought a lot of used books on the subject. I've started to organize the dyeing by making sample charts. It's really interesting to see how the same dyestuff can generate different colours depending on the mordant and modifiers used. A shift from acid to alkaline can generate a completely different colour, like all soapers know. I make one sample for un mordanted wool, one for rhubarb mordanted and five alum mordanted. Then I use iron and copper water to modify the colours, as well as citric acid and washing soda to shift the pH. I have bought Chrome and Tin, but haven't used those yet. I also try to remember to do samples for cotton, linen and silk, but for some reason I keep forgetting to throw those into the dye pot. I have assembled about 20 different charts already and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. I have a lot of natural dye plants that I have yet to try and now the leaves are turning and disappearing before my eyes. But winter is perfect for using imported dyes like Indigo powder, Cochineal, Logwood, Brazilwood, Annatto and Alkanet as well as onion skins, which I still haven't tried although I have collected a bunch.
Another thing that has taken up some time is my addiction to junk. I love to go on a treasure hunt at the local thrift store, The Good Shepherd. I generally walk there every day at lunch, killing two flies in one swoop: I get good exercise and I do it during the lightest time of the day which is essential to keep good spirits in the dark winter that is just about here. I've picked up some very nice things for very little money. I got a studded headboard for the spare bedroom for a few dollar and redid that. I also got the linen drapes and a lovely 80's carved Chinese rug (I've always loved those). And the mattress, a very good quality one, I also got at a thrift store. And the night stand. And the daybed thing, which I reupholstered. In fact that whole room is filled with my finds and it's overflowing with stuff right now.
Just the other day I bought some dining room chairs. They have coil springs in the seat which is way more comfortable than the modern day version that is used in the Ikea chairs we are currently using. The chairs aren't really old, they are repro pseudo-rococoish, probably 80's or even 90's, but when I've sanded the frames and painted them with milk paint and reupholstered the seat with some linen, they are going to look great. I also got this lovely little nightstand, a very simple thing, probably from the 20's or 30's with three drawers all of which have locks. I'm sanding it down and I think I'll wax it rather than paint it with milk paint (which I find so interesting right now). Originally the pine would have been painted to look like mahogany, but it had been repainted white when I got it. I've decided that it will serve as an occasional table between two armchairs in the living room. I can certainly use the storage space for the small treasures I have yet to find.
Then there is the gardening. I haven't really kept up with the home garden this year, but the allotment has gotten some attention. I just managed to harvest the potatoes while it was still reasonably dry. The only thing that's left in the allotment is some salad, some kale and carrots. And of course the dye plants, although I have harvested most of the leaves. I've had the greatest fun and frustrations with learning to dye with Japanese Indigo and Woad. Achieving a beautiful blue colour as well as a disappointing pinkish gray and slowly becoming wiser and more experienced. Getting a pure blue from green leaves is just magic. I love the light blue that comes from Woad. I still haven't tried traditional Indigo powder. That will wait till winter. Except I just used some precious indigo powder in my last soap. The context was perfect for a blue soap. So I didn't skimp on the Indigo powder like last time I tried to do blue soap. Well, the results were unexpected, although they should have been entirely, glaringly obvious. But that's another post.