Icy Queen Anne’s Lace

On Christmas Eve my family went sledding on a snow, icy hill in New Hampshire. My sister Denise captured these beautiful images of Queen Anne’s Lace encased in ice after an ice storm.

You can see the seed heads at the tops of the plant stalks, still standing despite the weather. Here are a couple close-ups:

Queen Anne’s Lace is a beautiful plant in any season, at any phase of growth, but the ice adds a glistening sparkle! Below you can see the seeds pretty clearly. They are oval shaped with little hairs all over them. You can also see the remains of the structure of the umbel from when it was flowering.

I have been meaning to do a post about identifying dyeplants at different times of year. Knowing where plants are going to come up in the following season is very helpful. You can watch for their emergence and check back at favorite spots to see when they’re ready to harvest. I think it’s fun and exciting to understand what plants look like at different phases in their lifecycle.

Until I get around to writing that post, I recommend two books. My favorite guide on this topic is Weeds of the Northeast by Richard Uva, Joseph Neal and Joseph DiTomaso. It has incredibly detailed photos and descriptions, different kinds of keys, a glossary, illustrations of botanical terms, comparison charts of look-alike plants, and more. The other is Weeds and Wildflowers in Winter by Lauren Brown. It has expressive black and white line drawings and poetic descriptions.

As I write this now in early August, the Queen Anne’s Lace is in full bloom and setting seed.

Green Yarn

This has been an extremely prolific year for Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot or Daucus carota. It is absolutely everywhere!

Back in July I ran two dyebaths with fresh Queen Anne’s Lace flowers. Since it’s so abundant, I decided to just use the flowers this time, though you can use the whole plant. For the first dyebath, I had no trouble collecting 30 oz. of flowers from various spots around Amherst, including the sides of parking lots, the side of the road, and next to bus stops.

The flowers are incredibly fragrant and sticky, and consequently they host a huge range of insects. When you pick the flowers, all the insects come along, too. This fact gave rise to a new house-hold rule:

I weighed the plant material outdoors! I also made the first dyebath outside on the portable electric stove outdoors. We had some rainy weather after that, so I made the second dyebath indoors using 24 oz. of flowers that I picked in Hadley. Continue reading “Green Yarn”

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

The time is drawing near! Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Work by Michelle Parrish and Amanda Quinby will go up on Tuesday at the Shelburne Arts Co-op, and will be open to the public from Wednesday October 2nd until Monday October 28th. Fall hours at the co-op are Sunday, Monday and Wednesday 11-5; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11-8. The co-op is closed on Tuesdays. Here is a sneak peek of the ryas that will compose my portion of the show. The other portion of the show will be Amanda’s enchanting gilded panels, which have been on display at KW Home in Easthampton this month. Continue reading “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral”

Green and Yellow Rya

After I finished the lichen-dyed rya the other day, I was close to the end of the warp. What to do? Plan a small project to make use of it? Cut it off? I had a similar problem earlier in the spring (see my “Too Short Warp” post). At that time I planned out a small project with green and yellow yarns, but I was ultimately stymied and I didn’t end up weaving it. I cut off the warp regretfully, since 8/4 linen warp isn’t cheap and I hate to waste linen because I know what goes into creating it. Continue reading “Green and Yellow Rya”

Easter Egg

Today I wove the wood thrush’s “egg” part of my nest-like rya. The egg is dyed with woad and Queen Anne’s Lace. The nest is dyed with black walnut. The darkest shade of brown right around the egg is hand-spun naturally brown Romney singles combined with my darkest shade of black walnut. Romney is a breed of sheep. I bought a huge bittersweet chocolate colored fleece many years ago at the Webs Fleece Market, but alas I can’t remember who I bought it from.

Row one:

egg row one Continue reading “Easter Egg”

Nest Rya

Once again, thanks to a snow day on Tuesday, I have made more progress on my new rya this week than I might have otherwise. Nevertheless, it is posing many challenges. The design is supposed to resemble an egg in a nest (Matthew’s idea–Thanks, Matthew!). Specifically, I’m thinking of a wood thrush egg, which is a very beloved bird to me. My colors are shades of tan and brown, dyed with black walnut, and blue-green for the egg, dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace and woad. Wood thrushes like to incorporate white material into their nests, so there is a very light colored layer around the outside of my design. Continue reading “Nest Rya”

Finished Rya

I finished my rya! Here it is enjoying the warm sunshine outdoors this morning.

P1190005

The yarns were all hand-dyed by me last July (2012) using woad from my garden and Queen Anne’s Lace from garden “weeds” and from scrubby places around town (e.g., under the powerlines and along the sides of Route 9 and Main St. here in Amherst). The blues are dyed with woad, the yellows are Queen Anne’s Lace, and the greens are Queen Anne’s Lace overdyed with woad. The mordant is aluminum sulfate. The yarns are single ply rug wool. Each knot is made with three strands of yarn. The warp is 8/4 unbleached linen.

This is my 100th post, and I feel very pleased to have made something so pretty to share on this occasion.

Re-Weaving the Rya

Thanks to a snow day on Friday February 8th, courtesy of winter storm Nemo, I got a lot of weaving done on my rya. I was well past the mid-way point by mid-day on Saturday. However, I decided I wasn’t satisfied with the transition from green to celedon to yellow at the center. In the process of redesigning this transition, I decided to make the whole design taller, i.e., more square. I wasn’t looking forward to all the extra work of re-weaving, but I decided I’d rather have a piece I was happy with. Continue reading “Re-Weaving the Rya”

Rya Weaving

After about two years of planning a series of naturally dyed rya wall-hangings in my mind, I am finally weaving one! I am very excited about it. There are many steps involved. First, I dyed pounds and pounds of woolen yarn. You can read about the process in earlier posts: black walnut, Lady’s bedstraw, Queen Anne’s Lace and woad, and orange cosmos. This project features Queen Anne’s Lace and woad.

Then, I set up the warp. It is 8/4 natural linen from Webs,124 ends, a little shy of 21 inches wide in the reed, set at 6 ends per inch in a 12 dent reed, sleyed 1-0-1-0-1- etc.. When it’s done I expect it will be about 14 inches high. Continue reading “Rya Weaving”

Another Woad Vat

Yesterday I picked 8 and a half pounds of woad leaves. This is a lot, probably the largest quantity I’ve harvested at one time. Many of the leaves are droopy and yellow at this point in the summer. It has been hot and dry, but there is a lot of color in them, so no worries.

woad in AugustI had written earlier in the summer about woad’s enemies. To fend off the cabbage whites, I planted two hyssop plants, which are supposed to help. I could only find anise hyssop, which may or may not be the right type. It definitely attracts the adult butterflies, as a food source I suspect. But I’m not sure it keeps them from laying eggs on the woad, and it’s the caterpillars that eat the woad leaves, not the butterflies.

anise hyssopI think at this point in the summer that slugs are the main predator on the woad, but I did find quite a few cabbage white eggs. The hyssop is very pretty, though, and it smells great, and the woad is doing OK, so even if the cabbage whites are still laying eggs on it, I guess it’s all fine. Continue reading “Another Woad Vat”