…by sweetness.

In a previous post, I briefly acknowledged my desire for writing with proper pen and ink, and for making that ink myself and storing it in a stone inkpot. I yearn for a simpler life, to be the farmer’s wife churning butter, baking and sewing all day, and for a time when beautiful penmanship was valued and it took weeks to receive a handwritten letter sealed with wax and delivered on horseback.

Well, just the other day, a lovely parcel arrived from dear Celeste. Atop the contents, a little note:

And what do I find?

A perfectly beautiful stone inkpot, a handcarved bamboo pen and a packet of ink tablets. Heaven! Thank you so much, Celeste!!!! Best mail day in recent times, especially since I also received a real, live handwritten letter that day, too. 🙂

I only wish I felt up to playing with these treasures right now, but I am recovering from a really intense oral surgery today…my jawbone splintered a bit when the screw was put in, and the pain and swelling are more than I expected…a lot more. It feels like someone is pulling my tongue out with pliers while simultaneously squeezing my sinuses in a vice and we won’t even talk about the puffy ‘walnut’ behind the surgical site. I never take painkillers. Really, never. We just called the dentist for an emergency prescription. Only what was left of my li’l bro-in-law’s vicodin stash got me through the afternoon. Rather than sleep, I am updating and applying. There is only so much sleeping I can pretend to do.

Am hoping I will be up to bringing the progeny to tomorrow’s parkday…but it’s not looking good.

I don’t think he’ll mind as much as I, however, as he has a shiny new Papa-built see-saw…

And he hates it. Can’t you tell? Ha.

It has morphed from see-saw to balance beam to scale to ramp to roof to chair…a most versatile and engaging piece of equipment.

As requested, I had planned on sharing my GF pizza crust recipe in this post, but it’s going to have to wait…I am reaching my threshold with looking at this screen for a bit, but I do plan on posting it. Perhaps I might really sleep right now if I let myself.

I’ll leave you with the latest incarnation of the fiber I dyed with acorns this past fall and with oak galls more recently…

Squirrel Party

Acorn-dyed organic merino top, merino locks, and oak-gall dyed tussah silk noil and suri alpaca, rainbow sari silk and naturally white suri.


The Results Are In!

It worked! Check out the raw silk fabric on the right…a true black!

The fiber on the left is suri alpaca…I did not soak it in the vinegar/rust mordanting bath as it would likely have damaged the fiber. I am going to keep my eyes out for an iron pot or cauldron so as not to need the vinegar in future.

The silk, however…I’m just thrilled with the results. Before we boil it down for writing ink, I’m going to try to find some raw cotton and linen fabrics to put in before the bath gets funky…

…not that it will be difficult to find more galls:

We weren’t feeling very inspired for Baking Tuesday this week…the sourdough starter is getting goooooood (C harnessed some wild yeast, so has grown his starter without store-bought. It’s very exciting), but oftentimes it’s nice to make something together that we can all of us eat. C and the Boy will bake their bread, but the other day we imagined up a Lunch Pie. Kale, potatoes, onions, eggs (I can tolerate pastured eggs every once in a while now…healing is occuring!), raw goat’s milk and cheese, pastured locally-raised bacon and a gluten-free crust. Of course, the fun was in that crust…lions and bears and stars and birds, oh my!…cookie cutters must be made of pure joy. While the pie was baking and then cooling, an entire hour was filled with pushing flour around the rolling board with the cookie cutter “graders.”

A new yarn style in the shop you will be seeing a lot more of:

Charlotte – a little bit of everything, carded up and spun using the long-draw technique. Light and fine, for your lace-y knitting pleasure.


Come Into My Lab…

We have experiments aplenty to fill our wet winter days.

Miss M and I traipsed about the neighborhood on a sloppy day last week and picked a basketful of sopping oak apples (aka galls).

We had to dry them out before they could be smashed into bits…

And now they are in a dyepot with raw silk scraps, a silk scarf, some suri alpaca locks and tussah silk noil. We brought it to a simmer for an hour or so, but otherwise the mixture has just been sitting around for a couple of days. Tonight, we combine vinegar and steel wool to make an acid/rust bath to dip all the material into, so as to darken and set the dye. The goal here is black.

Once the materials are removed from the dyepot, we will boil it down to make ink (we hope). I’ve been reading Diary of an Early American Boy and am now obsessed with the idea of a little stone inkpot and a crow quill to write with. I daydream about teaching my son the art of beautiful, thoughtful penmanship.

In the meantime, C has been working on a barn. It started out as a “doghouse” project to work on with the Boy, who desperately wanted a home for his stuffed doggie. It has become something much more than that…a work of love with mortise and tenon construction, wooden pegs, all the pieces fitting neatly together. It will be the Boy’s job to pound in all the wooden pegs and give it all a good rubdown with beeswax when construction is complete.

C needs to do a lot more of this…it’s where he finds his joy…he’s thinking rabbit hutches and coops for little wooden friends…

The rain has stopped…time to get out and explore the damp world. Loads of plying to look forward to when we come back inside…

Acorns Are the New Brown

As promised: A tutorial!

Disclaimer: This is a sloppy tutorial. I only measure when I absolutely have to. In this case, I wasn’t expecting any particular results, so I neither took notes nor made actual measurements. It seems, however, that acorns are a wonderful and forgiving dyestuff. Enjoy!

Step One: Mordant your fabric/fiber. I chose raw silk for this experiment and simmered it in vinegar for an hour…next time I’ll try something else, but I didn’t have any alum or rusty nails on hand. The piece of fabric I used was about 12″ x 24″.

Step Two: Gather acorns! This, of course, is the fun part. Especially if you have a small friend and a pretty basket. We had plenty in our own backyard, and there are tons and tons of them around the neighborhood and at the local playground/park. I would say I used about thirty acorns, not enough to cover the bottom of the pan…basically a couple, maybe three handfuls.

Step Three: Add a goodly amount of water and soak the acorns overnight.

Step Four: Bring the pot to a boil and leave it there for about an hour. Let it cool before adding fiber or fabric.

Step Five: Add your fiber or fabric to be dyed and bring the pot to a simmer for about an hour. I did not strain out the acorns for this, but I suppose you could if you want to. Turn off the heat and let the fabric/fiber sit in the pot overnight. I waited almost two days to take it out, rinse it and lay flat to dry.

Step Six: Toss soggy acorns into the chicken coop.

Right now I have a small piece of the fabric out on the picnic table in the backyard with a brick covering half of it. I’m going to check it every few days to see how colorfast it is.

I plan to dye about 8 oz of fiber with acorns later this week and will probably triple or quadruple the amount of acorns in the pot.

That’s all I’ve got today.