Purple Cloth

I wove some cloth! This shouldn’t be so remarkable, I suppose, but I’ve been really unproductive in the fiber art realm lately so it’s big news. Ultimately I plan to use this cloth to make a new batch of books with purple covers. I had hoped to have a few made in time for the upcoming “Purple Show” at the Shelburne Arts Co-op, but alas they will not be ready in time. I may get them finished before the end of the show…. The show hangs this Tuesday March 31st, and is up until Monday April 27.

Here are the weaverly details about this project: The warp is 20/2 cotton, from the discontinued UKI line. The color is called Malay Purple. There are 598 ends in the warp. The sett is 30 ends per inch. The width in the reed is 20 inches. My draw-in (how much the edges pulled in as I wove) was about 6% and the shrinkage in the width was about 4%. Shrinkage in length was about 6%. I washed it by hand in hot water and hung to dry.

The pattern is a miniature overshot motif called Maltese Cross. I’ve written about overshot in earlier posts, but I’ll quickly recap here. To weave overshot, you typically weave one pick of fine yarn (the same size as the warp) alternating with one pick of thicker yarn (approximately twice the diameter of the warp). The fine yarn makes a background that stabilizes the cloth creating a plain weave structure called tabby. In this piece of cloth, I used the same color of 20/2 cotton for the warp and the tabby. The thicker weft yarns float over several warp ends and form the pattern. I’ve woven most of my book cloth using overshot motifs. I really love them. To me they are simultaneously old-fashioned and psychedelic.

Here are some close-ups of the sections I’ve woven so far (there’s a lot more warp on the loom). In these images the cloth has been washed but not yet ironed. I wove the first section with 10/2 cotton for the pattern. I can’t tell you the name of the color because Webs (where I bought the yarn) doesn’t include this info on the label and I didn’t bother to make a note of it when I bought the yarn. Here’s the front of the cloth:

10/2 dark cotton frontAnd here’s the back:

10/2 dark cotton backThe second section also uses 10/2 cotton from Webs in the pattern, but in a lighter color that’s very close to the warp color. Here’s the front:

10/2 light cotton frontHere’s the back:

10/2 light cotton backIn the third section I tried a variegated 8/2 tencel for the pattern. I wasn’t happy with the way that the variegation interfered with the pattern, so I only wove a couple inches.

Front:

variegated tencel frontBack:

variegated tencel backFor the fourth section, I wanted greater value contrast between the pattern and tabby, but I didn’t have a darker 10/2 or 8/2 purple yarn. Instead, I wound a bobbin with two strands of 20/2 cotton together and used that for the weft. The color is Deep Purple. On the cone you can tell it’s a very dark shade of bluish purple. Against the light background it looks almost black. The weaving in this section went a little more slowly because I had to make sure the two strands of yarn passed through the shed evenly, which took a little futzing. But I really like the effect. I got the idea of doubling the warp yarn from Scott Norris of Elam’s Widow, who doubles his 40/2 linen for the pattern weft of his fabulous hand-dyed 100% linen towels.

Front of the cloth:

20/2 cotton frontBack of the cloth:

20/2 cotton backThe last section is 8/2 tencel. Here’s the front:

8/2 tencel frontAnd here’s the back:

8/2 tencel backThe color of the 8/2 tencel is almost identical to the darker 10/2 cotton, but I bought it anyway because tencel has a lustrous sheen that’s hard to resist and I wondered if it would make a difference in the cloth. The difference is subtle but noticeable, though I don’t think you can see it in the photos at all.

Lastly, it is interesting to see how the different pattern colors influence the color of the tabby background. I swear that the warp and tabby are the same in every sample!

To me, the background on the right looks pinker/redder than the one on the left. I think this is because the pattern color on the right has more red in it, and the pattern color on the left has more blue. The background of the sample on the left also looks darker in value because there is less contrast than in the sample on the left.

tencel next to 20/2 cottonIn the photo below, the background on the right looks slightly bluer than the one on the left. The background on the right also appears slightly darker in value because there is less contrast with the pattern yarn in the sample on the right.

reddish purple cotton next to bluish purple cottonI believe these difference are examples of a phenomenon called simultaneous contrast. It’s a complicated phenomenon with a lot of different aspects. Color theory has been on my mind again lately, since Sue McFarland presented a program on simultaneous contrast at last month’s guild meeting of the Pioneer Valley Weavers. Here are a couple links (1) (2) to read up abut it if you like.

In my next pieces of cloth I am planning to use some greens and yellows for the pattern yarns, and see what happens to the purple background.

 

Errata and Edits

I misspelled orifice as “oriface” in a recent post, which I have corrected. However, since someone out there may have read it with the incorrect spelling, I figured it would be honest to own up to it, as well as fix it for posterity.

Also, a while back I wrote that my bookmarks were 9 inches long with an inch fringe on each end, and the wrappers were 11 inches. All of this was wrong. Usually the bookmarks are about 10 inches long, with an inch of fringe on each end, and the wrappers are twelve inches long. The length is determined by the tracing paper which I’ve been using for the wrappers. I print onto sheets of tracing paper, trim them, and fold them up. However, lately the tracing paper has been jamming in the printer. I was thinking of switching to a more standard sized 8 1/2 X 11 inch sheet of paper, say velum, that would be sturdier and less fussy to work with. I haven’t actually done it yet, but that’s where my wonky thinking came from. I have also fixed this up in my originally post, but I didn’t want to do that without informing the general public.

OK, then, moving on.

Planning a Linen Warp

After I spun up that modest quantity of linen singles yarn (the bleached Louet top I wrote about last time), I got excited about planning a warp for it. I plan to use the handspun as weft. My current thought is to use the wet and dry spun yarns in alternating stripes in the weft. I think this will create stripes of different textures. But what to use for the warp?

I have a motley stash of naturally dyed linen yarns, including 20/1, 20/2 and 40/2 yarns. This project seemed like a good opportunity to use some of it. Since most of my dyeing consists of experiments and small batches, I don’t have a lot of any one color. So, I can’t make the whole warp from a single color, which obviously means I need stripes in the warp.

I did some calculations to estimate approximately how many yards of each yarn I have. This is possible to calculate because commercially spun yarns are standardized, and can be reliably trusted to yield a certain number of yards of yarn per pound of yarn. This measurement is referred to as “yards per pound” and is indicated on the label or in the description of most yarns you buy commercially. 20/2 linen is 3000 yards per pound. 40/2 and 20/1 linen are both 6000 yards per pound. They are half the diameter of the 20/2, so the same weight of fiber can be stretched twice as far.

I weighed all my skeins in ounces, converted the weight to a percentage of a pound, and multiplied by 3000. For the singles, I will double up the ends so they are the same size as the two-ply yarns.

Here are the yarns I decided to use:

naturally dyed linen yarnsFrom left to right, the colors are from woad, orange cosmos, a tree lichen, madder, umbilicate lichen, and black walnut.

Initially I was worried that my yarns made a random, unappealing palette. But they reminded me a little of a wrap that I really liked, which I’d made during a color workshop with Daryl Lancaster in October 2014. In her workshop, we made lots of wraps with different tasks or objectives in mind. A yarn wrap is a fun way to play around with color and plan out a warp. To make a yarn-wrap you literally wrap yarn around a stiff piece of card stock, and tape the ends down on the back. We used folded-over index cards.

This assignment was to select a small number of colors to reflect a particular image, in my case a photograph of The Strawberry Thief by William Morris, and make a wrap that reflected the image in terms of colors, values, proportions, etc.. Here’s an image of The Strawberry Thief:

Morris Strawberry Thief 1883 detailHere is my wrap (and an incomplete second wrap), next to a postcard of a different William Morris print with a similar palette:

William Morris inspired yarn wrapsSince my hand-dyed yarns are limited in quantity, I didn’t want to use them up making a yarn wrap. Instead I substituted commercial yarns, using the closest colors to the naturally dyed yarns that I could find in my stash. Here are the substitute yarns:

substitute yarnsI have nothing as dark as the darkest-value yarn in the wrap, so my whole palette is much more subdued than the Morris-inspired one. I made a wrap with some stripes and proportions that I liked, and then made some color xeroxes of it so I could play around with a composition.

yarn wrap and color copyHere’s the plan for the warp as it currently stands:

symmetrical warp with stripesThe white yarn I plan to use in the warp is undyed commercial 20/2 half-bleach, so it is less bright than the yarn I used in the wrap. Here are the two side by side:

half bleach and bleached yarnsSo, this plan for a small linen textile is well underway.

Handspun Louet Flax Top

Thanks to more snow days than usual this winter, I have finally finished spinning up a fiber preparation I bought years ago, 8 ounces of Louet bleached flax top. I have not spent much time on spinning in recent years, hence the delay. My plan was to experiment with wet-spinning and dry-spinning the fiber, to see if it made a significant difference in the yarn. I think it did.

“Top” is a term usually used to describe a fiber preparation in which all the fibers are aligned parallel to each other. It makes for smooth, comparatively dense yarns. I would describe this fiber as tow, due to the fact that the fibers are short and of varying diameter. Here’s a photo of a little sample of it.

bleached flax topI spun about half of the fiber wet, which means I dipped my fingers in water periodically while I was spinning. I drafted with my right hand, and dipped my left hand into the water. My left hand was closer to the orifice, which is the little hole in your spinning wheel where the yarn goes onto the bobbin. Wet fingers help to smooth down the fibers between the drafting zone and the orifice of the spinning wheel. I tried to introduce the water into the far edge of the drafting zone (on the yarn side) but keep it from getting into the main part of the drafting zone. If the water gets too far up into the untwisted fibers they get gunky, stick together, and then it’s hard to pull them apart to draft smoothly. Here’s the bobbin of wet-spun yarn:

wet spun yarnYou can see that it’s fairly smooth. The diameter is approximately comparable to a 20/2 linen yarn, though mine is only singles. In the linen-spinning world, my yarn is pretty coarse.

With the dry-spun yarn I just treated it like wool and spun as I normally would. Here’s the bobbin of dry-spun yarn:

dry spun yarnIt is hairier or fuzzier looking than the wet-spun. It is not significantly different in color, despite the photo. Both yarns are a bright bleached white.

I plan to leave them white and weave with them as singles in the weft.

Bookmark Success!

After I wove off that pink warp, dyed with madder, I finally put a new warp on the loom. It’s a blue warp, dyed with woad, for more “Jack Frost” pattern bookmarks. Amazingly enough, the first three came out exactly the same length! This is a feat of consistency of which I am rarely capable, so I was pretty happy. Here they are:

consistent weaving

What I have been aiming for in my bookmarks is a woven length of 10 inches, with 1 inch of fringe on each end. This allows them to fit exactly into the stylish wrappers Matthew designed, which are 12 inches long.

bookmark wrapper

A brief moment of triumph!

Bookmark Failures (Successes Coming Soon)

This post is the latest installment in a longer saga about weaving bookmarks with naturally dyed 40/2 linen. The saga spans many months, if not years. I have posted about these bookmarks in the past. You can read my most recent post about it here.

Or you can just catch up on the back story in this post!

My linen bookmarks are woven with 40/2 linen. They are not too time-consuming to produce, though the pricing still works out to a meager hourly rate when I take into account all the steps involved in the dyeing plus the weaving.

On the other hand, since I love dyeing more than almost anything (except possibly growing the dye plants), I never really account for that part of the process when I think about pricing. I am so compelled to dye that I dye yarn even when I have no specific outcome or product in mind.

My bookmarks are a lower-price-point item than my currently non-existent books or my rya wall hangings, so they sell pretty consistently at the Shelburne Arts Co-op. I make some additional direct sales to co-workers and friends. Thanks to the fantastic invention of reading glasses, I can now hemstitch with increased efficiency. So, as a sweet little item for sale, it’s mostly good.

Here’s the bookmark back story. In January of 2014 I decided to weave a new batch of bookmarks with a darker shade of madder-dyed pink. Normally I use a very light shade of pink. But, I’d made some lovely darker pinks and wanted to use them. I made a few huck lace heart motif bookmarks from this warp, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with them, so I didn’t weave off the warp for literally months.

There were two problems. First, the gauge of yarn seemed slightly more coarse than the 40/2 linen yarns I’d bought in the past from the same retailer. Just slightly, but enough to make a difference. I’ve had some discussions about this with another weaver who uses the same yarn, and with one of the folks at the store where I buy my yarn. They do not agree with me. So, maybe it was something else and not the size of the yarn. Whatever it was, I could not get the same number of picks per inch (threads in the weft) as I had in the past, and the heart motifs were all slightly elongated. I wasn’t pleased.

Second, the darker color did not work as nicely with the lace weave structure, in my opinion, as the lighter shades of pink. I have read that lace works best with light colored yarns. The structure involves horizontal and vertical lines (floats) which need to be viewed in a certain way in order for the design to be distinct. Light must bounce off of the yarn in order for the motifs to be clearly seen by the viewer. The more reflectivity (i.e., the lighter the color of yarn) the better the motifs will show. So, the combination of less reflectivity and less compact threads made the whole design less successful, in my opinion.

Due to life circumstances, for months I did not have the mental energy to tackle the relatively simple task of re-designing a new pattern for the number of ends in my warp and rethreading the warp (only 75 ends).

In September I was finally motivated to get the warp off the loom. First I tried a heart motif from Twill Thrills (scroll to the bottom of the page). The draft was designed to be woven with sewing thread. 40/2 linen is much thicker. So, it didn’t work at all. Pretty ugly.

white and blue heartscloser view of heart twill

Yes, the first heart (closer to the viewer) is upside down. No, you can’t see it at all. I reversed the treadling and tried with a darker weft color. Also ugly. Why not just start fresh? I was trying to use up the warp. Naturally dyed with madder, don’tcha know.

So, I re-threaded once again. This new pattern was much more satisfactory. The dark pink warp and extremely pale pink weft worked very nicely together. However, I couldn’t manage to beat it evenly. I wove three little bookmarks of various lengths and imperfect quality, and that was the end of the warp.

fancy twill motif

Now I have washed and ironed a couple of the bookmarks with the four-petaled flower-like motif above. They have a nice drape. Actually they are pretty cute.

pink twill motif bookmarkspink twill bookmarks with tape measureYou can see that the third motif from the left is short in both bookmarks. Matthew thinks they look like bacon. “You can see that the bacon is 11 inches long,” says he.

I think the lesson learned from this experiment is that I need to adjust the design so that the motifs are taller. And obviously be more careful with my beat.

Three Bags Full

About a month ago I was tidying up the crafts room. I was trying to get organized so I could weave a new crop of “Jack Frost” bookmarks before the winter holidays.

The crafts room is the room in our apartment which houses my loom, all my yarns, dried dye plants, dye equipment and materials, niddy noddy, swift, scales, carders, and drop spindles. It also contains two large book shelves full of books, a desk, a small filing cabinet, bookbinding supplies and tools, two antique scutching knives and an antique hetchel. The crafts room also contains a lot of dyed fleece and spinning fiber, hand-woven items, notebooks with all my dyeing, weaving, and teaching records, and some fiber magazines. Also, it’s where I store plastic bins with samples and materials for various fiber arts activities that I teach, and an ironing board and iron. And lots of other stuff like dye plant seeds and the beater and reeds for a 40 inch Macomber loom that’s been occupying my mom’s laundry room for a year while I try to figure out what to do with it. I know, that is a nutty list, and I didn’t even list everything. It is in a fairly chronic state of chaos.

There’s no flax in there, though. That’s all stored in the bedroom and the minivan. The spinning wheel lives in the living room.

Far more occasionally than I’d like, I wrestle the crafts room into a momentary state of order in which I can actually weave. This was one of those rare occasions. So, as I said, I was doing some tidying. I came across a zip-lock bag with soil inside, and to my surprise there were tiny little green sprouts growing inside.

Japanese indigo seeds germinatingI was briefly confused. Then I remembered that I had collected some Japanese indigo seeds that had fallen on the ground when I was cutting all the plants for harvest in October. I just scooped up the seeds and the soil they were resting on and dumped them in a bag. After I got home that day, I was focused on tying up the plants and setting them up to dry. In the meanwhile I forgot about these seeds in the zip-lock. I didn’t expect that they could germinate in a bag. But clearly, the soil was moist enough for them to germinate, and they must not need a lot of light or scarification or cold stratification or anything fancy. Here’s a close-up:

Japanese indigo seedlings

They were spindly and doomed, since it was November and we don’t have a greenhouse or any natural light in the apartment. But they grew! I was very excited. This bodes well for growing a large crop next year, and sharing seeds with others once I get them cleaned up.

Apparently I never took a photo of the Japanese indigo plants hung up to dry. That’s a shame because it was pretty impressive. When they were fresh they were very bulky. The plant material entirely filled our downstairs half-bath.

The plants dried very nicely in that little room with the heat on at 75 degrees. They even retained the vivid color of the flowers, the magenta stems, and some of the dark green of the leaves.

dried Japanese indigo flower

As the dried, they shrank in size considerably. This is good because I don’t have that much storage space. The bags of dried plant material are currently stored in, you guessed it, the crafts room.

Many seeds fell off while the plants dried and I collected them on paper spread out on the floor. Many are still clinging inside the dried flower clusters, on the plant stalks. There’s a chance I can use the dried leaves for dyeing when the warm weather returns. Meanwhile, here are the three paper grocery bags full of dried Japanese indigo plants and seeds:

dried Japanese indigo plantsThree bags full. I have yet to strip off the leaves or separate the seeds. This will no doubt be a messy and time-consuming job, resulting in a very small quantity of end product. My specialty.

Seeds and Life and Death

The fiber and dye plants at my plot at Bramble Hill have done a brilliant job of setting seed this fall. It’s very exciting. Since it is nearly All Hallows Eve, or Samhain, or El Dia de los Muertos, depending on your tradition, I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between the dead and the living.

Harvest and abundance, frosts and death. Seeds carry us through from one season to the next, from the death of fall to the life of spring.

Orange cosmos are usually prolific, but this year seemed especially so. Here are some images of the cosmos plants back on October 19th when I harvested the Japanese indigo. A chaotic tangle of flowers, stalks, and seeds. Death and rebirth.

orange cosmos chaos

Here is a different perspective on the state of things, with dead stalks and seed heads alongside bright flowers still in bloom. In the background is the Holyoke Range, a defining feature of our local landscape. The mountain in the center, with the steep downward angle on its left and long slope on its right, is Mt. Norwottuck. The round-topped mountain to the right of it is Bare Mountain. The dip between them is locally known as The Notch.

October cosmos with Mount Norwottuck

Here is a lone seed head against the cloudy autumn sky on that windy day.

cosmos against the sky

And here is a seed head that has already lost several of the long, delicate seeds. I think the structure and color of cosmos seeds is gorgeous.

partial cosmos seed

Another plant that set a lot of seed this season is madder. Typically madder is propagated by roots or below-ground stems. Madder is a bedstraw-relative. New plants will grow up from the nodes of the stem or stalk, and pretty much any fleshy part of the root. I assume that it can also be propagated by seed, but alas I cannot vouch for this from personal experience. I tried planting madder seedlings one summer, but this is my only record:

madder seed experiment

It dates from July 7, 2011. No, it is not a lot to go on. I do not seem to have made any notes about it, so I’m guessing nothing germinated. That little green two-leaf seedling is probably a tomatillo. These are ubiquitous in everything we grow thanks to our home-made compost, which consists of a lot of salsa-making detritus.

If something noteworthy happened, I think I would have taken a photo or written about it in the garden log, but I can’t find anything. So, I am not sure if madder seeds are good for anything, but I sure have a lot of them! Exactly my kind of wealth.

Here are some madder berries. I don’t know if that’s botanically accurate but I think it’s descriptive. They are the dark purple spheres amidst the stems and foliage.

October madder berries

And here are some that have dried right on the stalks:

dried madder berries

I opened up a berry that was still juicy. You can see the slight staining on my hand. No, I do not plan to try madder berries as a dye source. The pulp is on my index finger and the seed on my middle finger.

madder seed and pulp

I scraped the skin off a dried berry, and the tough seed inside was almost the same size as the berry itself. Here’s the seed. A little world dense with potency.

madder seed

I’m not precisely sure how to tell when madder seeds are mature. Both the seed from the juicy berry and the seed from the dried berry felt very hard.

I’m inclined to think that the one from the wizened berry is more mature.

Senescence–the over-maturity of a fruit and the beginning of its decomposition–is a characteristic that often indicates seed maturity.

Seeds teach us that biological life is cyclical, not linear.

A seed is both the destination and the source.

 

Japanese Indigo Harvest

Why two blog posts in one night, you may wonder? I am typically a binge-blogger. Once I finally sit down to deal with photos and organization and writing, I get in a groove and it’s fun to keep going. Tonight, however, I am killing time while I wait up for a tansy dye bath and a wool mordanting bath to get done. Tomorrow I am doing a natural dye workshop for Mass Ag. in the Classroom at their day of hands-on gardening skills. I have been absurdly busy with one thing and another all week, so tonight was my sole free night to wind skeins, scour, mordant, and make the dyebath. It’s more than I usually try to do in a night after work, and makes for a later night than usual. Anyway. I am not actually writing about that. I am writing about my gorgeous Japanese Indigo plants.

After a few frost warnings this month, during which I covered the Japanese Indigo with several layers of sheets, the forecasted temperatures on October 19th were in the 20s. I figured the time had come to cut all the Japanese Indigo and hang it up to dry. You may recall that I had decided to let the plants get as big as possible, and to try to save as much seed as possible, rather than harvest the leaves for dyeing this season. I had brushed off seeds as the flowers stalks matured and dried out, so I already had a pretty nice stash of seeds. But, I read in Dorothy Miller’s seminal book Indigo From Seed to Dye that you can cut the whole plants and allow them to dry, and the seeds will continue to mature. Since I know this is true of flax and some other plants, I was pretty confident that it would work.

Here are some of the plants right before I harvested them. You can see that the late fall coldness has settled on the marigolds, and they are getting ready to die. Pretty much everything in the dye plant garden was transitioning into decline by then.

Japanese Indigo plants at harvest Here are some close ups of the flowering stalks.

Japanese Indigo flower stalks at harvest

Aren’t the burgundy-colored stems next to the pink flowers just so luscious?

Mature Japanese Indigo flower stalkI cut the plants right down to the soil-level. For a few days now they have been hanging upside down from the clothes rack in our downstairs half-bath. The heat in there is controlled on its own thermostat. I turned it up to about 75 and closed the door. Already the flower stalks are drying and turning white and brown, and the seeds are loosening. So, I should get a good amount of seeds, I hope.

I’m not sure how I will start these seeds in the spring. The seedlings need to be started well before the last frost, which for us can be as late as Memorial Day weekend. I will have to find someone with a greenhouse and hit them up for some space.

Weld Harvest

Way back on October 5th, a Sunday, we had a frost warning. I had a shift at the Shelburne Arts Co-op that day, so my time for gardening was limited. In the morning I went over to the garden at Bramble Hill to assess the situation and do triage. I decided to go back to the garden after my shift to cover the Japanese indigo plants because I was hoping to nurse them along for a while to let the seed mature. More on that later.

I did not think it would be possible to cover the hugely tall weld plants, and I could also tell that plenty of seeds had matured on the weld already. I think I have written about this before, but just as a refresher I will remind readers that weld flowers keep growing off of the same stalk throughout the season. At harvest time, the tips will still be in bloom while the oldest seed heads at the base of the flower stalk will be mature. Only black weld seeds are viable. Every other color of seed, from brown to yellow, gets tossed in with the flowering tops, leaves, and stalks for the dye pot.

So, that morning I clipped off the most mature-looking seed heads and put them in a brown paper bag to dry. I cut down all the plants that had bolted, tossed them in the van, and drove to the co-op. The weld basically filled up the van. Well, it filled up the part that wasn’t already full of flax. The plants stayed in the van for a couple days until Matthew declared them too stinky. I am inured to many strong smells, and weld is no exception. To me it smells like asparagus. I think it’s a nice smell, usually. One year my crop smelled like cat pee as it dried. That was intense. Matthew thinks it smells like pee after you’ve eaten asparagus. Strong, weird, and worrisome until you remember that you ate asparagus. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but we are a one-car (or one-van) household, so obviously the weld had to dry elsewhere.

We don’t have a lot of space at our apartment, so drying options were limited. I moved the weld from the van into the “crafts room” where my loom is. It took up a good portion of the room. However, the door can shut and the windows can be opened, and the weld dried pretty well in there without contaminating the rest of the apartment with stinkiness.

Here I am holding the harvest after it has dried and shrunk down quite a bit, two weeks after harvest. You can see the delicate yellow flowering tips at the ends of some of the stalks.

weld harvest 2014I will have a lot of seed from this harvest. I used to think that you had to direct-seed weld. I’d read that it didn’t like to be transplanted because it has a long taproot. It is frustrating to plant it directly into the ground because germination is uneven and it takes a really long time. It’s not easy to keep the seed bed moist over days and weeks while the seeds germinate (or don’t), so for many years I found weld kind of tricky to grow.

However, I have discovered that it transplants just fine. I grew a lot of seedlings this summer, which I transplanted at our Amethyst Brook garden plot this fall. I put them in the bed we had used for red onions. This is the kind of “crop rotation” we can manage in a small garden plot. I didn’t think weld would suffer from any of the same pests as alliums, though I’m not positive about this. Transplanting the seedlings that actually germinate is much more efficient and much less of a waste of time. With luck, I will have a giant crop next year. Yellow, anyone?