The behinder I get…

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Roselle – aka Florida Cranberry

This picture was taken exactly one month ago. I can’t seem to get myself in synch. Here you can see the hibiscus-like flowers and little buds rising from the stem. Wait’ll you see how the plant looks now!

This plant is, officially, my favorite plant. Here are things you can do with this plant: 1) eat the leaves – in France, this plant is called sorrel; in fact, the leaves taste just like sorrel, 2) make tea with the calyces – just like rose hip tea, 3) make jelly with the calyces – yum yum, 4) make a jellied “sauce” like cranberry sauce with the calyces, 5) make dye with the spent flowers, 6) make fiber – yes roselle is a bast plant! Quite a lot of bang for the ol’ buck, yes?

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Kurogoma – Black Sesame

Back in August, TT gave me some seeds at the downtown farmers market. They were black sesame seeds. Of course, we couldn’t wait. Planted 6 of them. The all germinated. A month ago, this is how Miss Sesame looked. Great little flowers! Now…well. The seedpods are – well…I have to take more pictures tomorrow.

I suppose I should be taking pictures of the wonderful sandspurs that Sally and Holly have discovered. My fingers are bruised and sore from picking the damn things out of their fleece. No. I’m not dignifying the sandspur with a photo.

I have some exciting actual fiber things to show, too. All weekend, I prepped fleece. Washed, mordanted, dyed…mmm. And now…I’m in the carding and roving pulling process. Next time…

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Hello Fall, Goodbye Coreopsis

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My stand of coreopsis was reduced to 3 or 4 spindly, hacked up plants around the terra cotta chicken fountain. The hennys did a pretty good job of dismembering said stand. So, I was reduced to trolling the county roads. My very own personal county road, also called 232, was loaded with the 3rd blooming 2 weeks ago. I had not had time all summer long to even pull over and snip some blossoms. So, this was it. I made sure I had a big ol trash bag with me whenever I went out. And finally, I said to myself, “Today’s the day.”

I set out for the feed store, expecting to see masses of yellow flowers, but when I turned out onto the road, all I saw was new mown grass. A mile later…5 miles later…8 miles later, there was a tractor, mowing ’em down. I turned onto 27. Tractors mowing everywhere. It was one of those early fall days, you felt you could be outside, I guess. I got the feed. Not a flower in sight. Decided to take an alternate route home. And there, by the bottling plant near the springs, OH HA! The Last of the Coreopsis.

So there you go. I mordanted a variety of fiber…some of Holly’s hoggett fleece from last April’s shearing, some fine GCNI from a sheep in Dry Creek, Louisiana, some Border Leicester from Maryland. Then I made a dyepot with half of those coreopsis. The result…not intense oranges, but milder, softer shades. I’m totally delighted with the “overdye” effect on the gray GCNI. I want to wear THAT.

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Here’s a close up, sans flash, of this season’s green cotton. We had quite a time with cotton this year. Permitted by the state, boll weevil trap planted in the garden by the Division of Plant Industry, and inspected by Wayne every three weeks this summer.

This is our 2nd year of growing cotton. We planted only green. I selected bolls with the darkest fiber, and was pleased with the outcome. Most of the cotton is medium green. Last year’s batch was all over the green spectrum…but mostly very very pale.

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These are beautyberries. An entirely different color.  Pretty intense. I’ve been cutting stems and making wild bouquets with goldenrod. For years. Well, this year, I heard tell of a jelly made from beautyberry. Lenore, daring wench that she is, went first. She found “the mother lode” on her 10 acres. She was so daring she even added wine. Well. I tasted her jelly. I tasted the berries. I knew I had to make some.

Lenore the Enabler showed up at the farmers market with a big fat bag of berries. Almost enough for the “recipe.” On one of Smitty’s morning sojourns, I picked enough to make enough jelly for the Western World. I didn’t add wine. Just berries, pectin, and sugar.

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Here you go. Five half-pints of jelly. Scarlet jelly. Now, how did that happen? The violet berries produced an amber colored juice. When the pectin hit…instant color change! I’d never used pectin before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The jelly set right up…ka-boom! Heck in a handbasket, it’s just like store-bought. Except it tastes herbal, wild, and like nothing that Publix would ever carry. Yum.

Thanks Lenore!

Oh…and the recipe…should anyone out there care to dare:

1 1/2 qts beautyberries
2 qts water
1 pkt pectin
4 1/2 c sugar

Start a boiling water canner rolling. Prepare 5 1/2 pt jars, lids, and bands.

Rinse and pick over berries. Ditch the stems. Cover the berries with the water. Bring to a boil…let boil for 20 minutes. Mash the berries a bit. Strain.

Use 3 c of the berry juice. (You’ll have another 3 c left to refrigerate to make more at a later date.) Bring the juice to a boil. Whisk in an envelope of pectin. (I used Ball brand.) As it boils, whisk in the sugar (all at once) and bring a 2nd boil. Let it boil hard for a minute.

Remove from heat. Skim off the “stuff” on top. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pt jars with 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes.

Back from Barberville

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All I spun today was a bit of coreopsis dyed Gulf Coast Native. I cannot resist showing off the first skein from my little girls along with that apricot colored yarn.

We screamed to Barberville last night, after the Morningside shearing/festival day. Played a very hot dance. We were joined by Katie Bailey Waller and Joe Waller on the stage. Pat Czar called. Dancers come from all over the state to have a weekend of non-stop dance with a different band/caller every hour. It was great to have the honor of playing the last dance.

Today, we had a performance gig and an afternoon dance with Roy Moye calling. Katie and Joe were up for playing again, so we had a Turtles Wallerv sound. Now, we had a lot of down time between gigs. So…Mr Spindle came in handy. But, not for long. At music festivals, you end up, well, if not making music, then talking about music, or getting together to laugh with musicians you haven’t seen in awhile. It was one of those days. So, most of the spinning was of musical tales.

A Dash of Apricot & a Map

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The apricot-coreopsis fluff from yesterday’s post (below) is being transformed into yarn. But, there are so many last minute things to do before tomorrow’s big reveal, that I just can’t fit one more centimeter of yarn into my day.

Tomorrow Holly & Sally get loaded into the truck (that ought to be a worthy sight) and driven back to Morningside, where they were born. There, they are destined to meet a shearer called Joel, who came all the way from Alabama to shear a few Gulf Coast Natives.

Before the haircuts, I will be dressed up like your maiden great-grand-aunt who lived in the sticks in 1880. I’ll be setting with Susan the soapmaker, showing off these plant dyed yarns of mine. I can’t bring the Fricke, but I have many a handspindle to accompany me. I promise to sneak a certified non-authentic camera in, to take a couple pictures.

After the haircuts, Tom & I will drop the naked girls off back home, feed the chickens, and depart for Barberville, where we are scheduled to play the last dance at 10:00. Then…who knows. We will probably drive home so as to be here to feed the critters first thing. Then, it’s back to Barberville for more pickin’ and fiddlin’ – a midday gig and an early afternoon dance.

Hence the book of maps.

Ah, to be Single & Orange

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172 yd/1 1/2 oz Gulf Coast Native Singles – Coreopsis

The dyed locks from last summer ran out, but gave up a nice soft singles yarn. I’d like to ply it, and the choice I have is between waiting for coreopsis to bloom and dyeing more, or plying with a different color. This time, I’m opting to wait for flowers. I’m hankering for solid colors.

Today, our fiddle band played for the opening day of Morningside’s Farm & Forest Festival. Many many elementary school kids were let out of jail and brought to the farm to enjoy a day of earthiness. They made rope, watched a blacksmith, a tanner, and a banjo maker, they ate kettle corn and roasted corn, they saw a “cracker” barnyard and an heirloom garden, they touched tanned pelts, and they sat on benches and sang along with the Flying Turtles String Band. We return on Saturday with our sheep and my baskets of plant dyed yarns. Our gals, Holly and Sally, will get their very first shearing. We are very excited! Holly and Sally…well…not too much.

Naturals in Demand

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This morning, we were still up in the air about the Farm & Forest Festival coming up this weekend. We knew we were scheduled to play music on Thursday, but we didn’t know what we were going to do with Holly & Sally. The shearer is coming from Alabama, and he will be shearing on Saturday. We are scheduled to be playing at Barberville on Saturday night and on Sunday. It was suggested that we drop the sheep off Friday, and just leave them. No. Nope. Uh uh.

So….after mucho deliberation and a nice conversation with the Morningside gang…we know what we will be doing with the girls. They will get a ride to Morningside early Saturday morning. (Early because the Farm & Forest Festival is about a less mechanized time…no modern stuff is allowed on the farm during the festival.) Joel will shear them in the afternoon. We will take them home. We will drive to Barberville. Ta da.

Oh ha! But…one more thing. Yes…about my natural dyeing. Ahhhh, yes…I guess we did have a conversation about that last year. Oh boy. Well, I dug through my baskets and found some yarns. Some started. Some finished. Some dyed locks. Yay! Coreopsis locks! YAY!

I cabled some goldenrod yarn, reskeined the pokeberry and the marigold, and carded into roving some of the coreopsis locks. I’ve just started spinning that roving. I can’t take my Fricke to the festival, because it looks like something out of the Jetsons. But I can take yarn.

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This is Gulf Coast on the bobbin. I have about 50 g of dyed locks. I’ll spin a little 2-ply.

Also, since the Virginia Creeper is going gangbusters…I’m going to be dyeing after dinner. I have Gulf Coast, Corrie/Mohair, and Border Leicester soaking in the bathroom sink. Tune in tomorrow…

Fresh Garbagecan Yarn! Whoo hoooo!

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Here she is. A brand new skein spun from scraps. She’s nestled into a bed of those same scraps…yep, there are plenty more. I’m not sure about this picture. I took it using the flash, something I never do.

This skein has been washed and thwacked and sun dried. The yarn is very soft and fairly fluffy. This worked out to 3 oz and 122 yd.

Now, it’s off-to-find-a-pattern time. Or, off to design one, anyway. I was thinking a cowl. Well, last week, I was thinking a cowl. We had three nights of frost last week. Tomorrow, the weatherman predicts a high of 82 and a low of 47…the lowest temp predicted over the next 10 days. Maybe a bikini top?