Month: April 2017

Eye Candy Wool

I have been having so much fun! These colors were created by immersing the washed and dried wool fleece pieces into hot water with vinegar and food coloring dye. Then I added more dye in different places straight from the dye droppers or powders and pressed the intense colors into the wet wool in separate areas of the pot of wool and hot vinegared water!  To make sure all the die was absorbed, I turned the heat on till it just almost simmered.  After a bit (10 min to a half hour or so) I checked the water. Once the water was clear when I checked it, I knew that dye was completely absorbed.

I’m not one for careful calculations or measuring so this fits my personality perfectly!

These gorgeously colored fleeces will be incorporated into my felted wall art, scarves, or spun into exciting colored and textured yarns!

Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) compared to Heal All (Prunella vulgaris)

Red Dead Nettle

Red Dead Nettle

The plant on the bottom front of the pile in the photo below is from my yard and is called Red Dead Nettle, like the plant in the photo above.

The first time I saw this plant in my yard I became curious.  Was I seeing the little plant that is so great for healing called “Heal All”?  I looked up Heal all online and could see this little plant was obviously different . . . but still looked similar in my opinion.  Plants can be so difficult to identify without a name to use for looking it up!!  Finally I searched Heal All look alikes, and there was my little plant!


Red Dead Nettle is my little plant’s name.  Yay!  I found out what the plant was!!!  –Unless you have tried to figure out what plants are when you or your friends don’t know, you have no idea how difficult it can be, so I was thrilled to have found out this plant’s name so easily–  Now I could look up more about the plant in my yard.  Is it edible?  Is it medicinal?  Turns out it is both.

Red Dead Nettle is not a true nettle and does not sting.  That is why it is called “Dead nettle.”  Red Dead Nettle is a member of the mint family.  Some of the other common names for Red Dead Nettle are Purple Dead Nettle, Lavender Dead Nettle, Purple Archangel, and Velikdenche  (according to Wikipedia).

Heal All

Below are two photos of Heal All.  Another common name for Heal All is Self Heal.  Heal All is also a member of the mint family.  Heal All is both edible and medicinal.

When we were camping a couple summers ago, one of our party got a nasty infection under her big toenail when she was injured.  Her toe was swelling and very painful.  We made a poultice of Plantain (a drawing herb which brings the infection to the surface of the skin) and Heal All (good for any healing).  She said the poultice stung like the dickens but she kept it on for awhile.  By morning, the infection had come to the surface and could be cleaned out.  One more application a couple days later, when her toe began swelling again, completed the cure!

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Thank goodness for these gorgeous plants that voluntarily appear for our benefit!  Plants are such a God given gift!

Glorious Dandelion!

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen as gorgeous a dandelion as this one right here. A volunteer in my small raised garden I’m grateful this enormous dandelion showed up. Hopefully the seeds of this huge plant will spread all over my garden, Providing me with lots of super nutritious greens.

There are many dandelion look-alikes. According to what I’ve read, there are no poisonous look-alikes, but it’s good to know when you have the real thing. Some of the look-alikes here in Oregon, called cats ears, are very bitter. 

Probably the best way to tell a true dandelion is to look at the flower and it’s stem. The stem will be hollow with white milky substance oozing out when it is broken. There will be only one flower to a single stem and the stem of a true dandelion does not branch as many look-alikes do.

Dandelion flowers are edible as well as the leaves and the roots. Some people roast the roots and make a hot drink out of the ground roasted roots.  I personally have only tried the flowers and the leaves. 

I find the flowers very pleasant to eat raw and I put the leaves in my smoothies. I have read that these are some of the most nutritious greens on the planet.

I simply love how I can walk into my yard and find wonderful things to eat without having to do any work at all!

Eye Candy Yarn!!

I’ve been chomping at the bit to play with these colors and make some wild colored yarn. This is like candy to me.

I’m carding a few colors together, once or twice, for each rolag, alternating the colors I use, and then just spinning them up onto the bobbin. I plan to ply it and then it’ll be really wild!

Spring Greens

I wonder . . . when our ancestors spoke about spring greens, did they mean these?

No need to wait for your garden to come up when you have plantain, clover, dandelions, and heal all look alike: Purple Deadnettle – Lamium purpurem (also edible).  Also in this bunch are a few greens I kept covered with a sheet over the winter to keep them from dying: celery tops, parsley, beet greens, and thyme.

These will be thrown into my smoothie this morning, to which I will add wild blueberries from the freezer section of the grocery store, frozen strawberries, frozed sweet cherries, banana, water, and a can of coconut milk. Yummy!

This combination will probably fill my blender and produce four large glasses of smoothie which I will save in the refrigerator until I drink them, one at a time. Probably will last me a couple days at least.

And the greatest thing is the wild greens have much more nutrition than your average garden greens!  Most people don’t realize that dandelions are one of the most, if not the most nutritious green vegetable there is!!  The yellow flowers are edible too, as well as the root can be used for roasted root tea (haven’t tried that yet though).

Dying eggs and wool. 

After we finished dying Easter eggs, I decided to put my recently washed and dried Gotland/Marino wool fibers into the egg dying cups to see what would happen.

We had about seven or eight cups with colors, some pure, some mixed. Below are the first bunch of colors that came out of the dyes. 

Three of the cups still had dye in them so I added more wool. As you can see below, the blue die that is left in the cups is not anything like the color of the wool that came out already. The dye must have split and some colors absorbed faster than others.

I think this is a great way to dye lots of different colors in small amounts!

Fun with Spirals!

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   Close up of center.

Wiggly spiral of merino, silk, and linen felted on a background of merino/silk 50/50, embellished by glass pearls and sparkly glass beads.

I have always loved spirals so of course I must include them in felting!  This wall art is ready for framing as is, or can be stretched on a wood frame backing, which I will do if I put it in The Art Center in Corvallis.

“Spiral Universe in White”  14″ x 13.5″IMG_3413.jpg

Distractions vs Vision … Happiness vs Joy

Here is my feeble attempt at explaining what I think I know so far!

This life is full of amazing opportunities for each of us.  Not only is that knowledge freeing and door opening, I find it more and more easy to become distracted from the best to the better.  Or, from my vision in life to a happy distraction.

Distractions come in many forms: decadent indulgences, pretty things; feeling less than others; feeling better than others; from a plethora of good things to a plethora of bad things, none of which are our personal ideal of what we want out of life.

Happiness, as I have been told, is the feeling that comes from things that are temporary but pleasant.  Eating a delicious meal or favorite dessert, buying a beautiful dress or jewelry, winning an award, becoming famous, receiving positive attention, going on a desired outing, or anything that brings happy feelings.

Joy, on the other hand, is lasting.  Joy is a feeling which comes from knowing what is of true value in the long run, and living in a way which puts the things of true value in the foreground of your life and your attention.

The things that make me happy are: making art, selling art, making anything beautiful, building a structure I want to use for something, eating ice cream, eating chocolate, looking in the mirror and being pleased with my image, riding my horse, reading a novel, surfing you tube, doing what I want.  These are a few of the things that make me feel happy or even blissful for a few minutes.  But those moments are not lasting.

The things that bring me joy are: spending time enjoying my family and grandchildren, feeling a connection with a special friend, feeling that I have helped someone, teaching someone something I think will bless their lives, sharing my experiences in hopes my story might benefit someone, learning something, feeling God’s love for me, feeling love for others, realizing things I never understood before, following what I know to be right after I learn about it.

Malcolm Ringwalt, one of my teachers, once asked the students in his class, “What do you value most?”

Going deep inside myself I asked myself, “What do I value most?”  I had been so involved in learning survival skills, and awareness skills, I thought my answer would have something to do with that.  Boy was I in for a shock!  What an eye opening exercise.  I found the things I was hotly pursuing were not what I valued most.

What do I value most?  MY CHILDREN.  Period.  End of sentence.   I value my children before art, before, food, before a career, before going to classes, before everything except my relationship with God.  I also realized I was spending the majority of my time and attention away from what I valued most.  Time to shift gears, change horses in the middle of the stream, make a change!

Each day brings opportunities.  How will I spend my time?

Beading the sweater my daughter will wear to prom was a good time to contemplate how I spend my time.  I realized I was neglecting my housework; I was neglecting my “career” as an artist; and that was just fine because I was doing something infinitely more valuable, for me and for my daughter.  I was doing something out of love and devotion for her.

She would often sit and read to me, as I worked, to keep me company.  Or she would do my horse chores to free me up to work on her sweater.  We experienced a cooperation and a sharing of love and support.  I didn’t make any art to sell, and my house is a disaster (still waiting for me), but I created something infinitely more valuable — a stronger and better relationship with my daughter.

Beading a sweater for prom. 

Making this soft gray sweater fancy for prom is a meditative task.  It may be quicker and easier to buy something already sparkly but there’s quite satisfaction in transforming something yourself.  

I have enjoyed having my children read to me from their school work or from the Scriptures as I am working on this project for Juliana.

This task helps me appreciate the time that goes into hand beaded items. 

Kids Felting

Last Christmas I helped my grandkids felt scarves for their father and grandfather. They had so much fun they were begging me to let them make scarves for themselves. I told them that I would let each of them make a scarf for themselves as their Christmas present. Well, finally I kept that promise.

With a little supervision and help, felting can be a very gratifying craft for children. Melanie and I helped her youngest two put together small scarves and the results were nothing less than wonderful.

For her youngest, Heather, Melanie helped her pull all the “chosen” colors off the shelves and open the bags and help her pull out appropriate amounts of color, and let Heather place the colors where she wanted them. Occasionally Melanie had to help her adjust for thickness. 

Once the colors were laid out and prepared for rolling, we let Heather begin the felting process by rolling the bundle herself for a while. This gave Heather the opportunity to experience the felting process for a little while.  After that Melanie finished it up.

Melanie had to resist the urge of advising on colors and placement to let the project be purely Heathers art, and as you can see from the photos below, the results were truly stunning in Heather’s reversible scarf.

As one of my workshop participants said, after a felting her first scarf, “You can’t ruin these things can you?”

I was helping Michael with his scarf. Michael was much more self-sufficient. All I had to do was show him how to pull the fibers off the roving and place them and he was on his way. He placed every fiber for his scarf himself, as well as picking out his colors and pulling them from the shelf himself. When it was time to roll the bundle for the felting process he did most of that as well.

He was so pleased with his scarf when it was finished that he couldn’t wait for it to dry thoroughly, but put it on and ran outside to play.

Below are photos of Michaels scarf.

After Heather and Michael finished their scarves, Jacob wanted to start his. I told him I was too tired but he said he didn’t need any help so I let him go ahead. He remembered how to do it pretty much, from the time we made the Christmas presents, so he just went to work.

I guided him only a little and when he had finished laying out the scarf, I helped him set up for felting.

He had to go home before he was finished so I finished up his felting easily once he was gone. Below are photos of the result!

They had so much fun it was a real joy to help them.

I would be willing to teach young children’s  workshops if a parent comes along for each child in case they need help.  

Older children, 14 and up, are capable of the entire process themselves.

If you or your children are interested In a felting Workshop please contact me.  I would be happy to set something up.

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