Friday, 13 May 2011

Slow Worms

We found slow worms in our garden last year, and they're turned up again this year. We found one dead on the drive a couple of weeks ago, and 2 days ago we found some live ones under some bark. We must have a breeding population which is fantastic news as they eat those pesky slugs. Now we've finally got some rain the slug population has started breeding, and don't the plants know it!



Tuesday, 10 May 2011


I'm having real fun at the moment experimenting with natural dyes. We've always made home made wines and to a certain extent it's Chemistry, which of course I love!
You do have to take care with things, some people seem to get very scared by using chemicals, but I handled chemicals on a daily basis for the last few years, a lot of which were more dangerous than the ones I'm using now. Whats interesting is how many dye plants are also ones we use for wines.
Speaking of wines, here was my first experiment, we had some blackcurrant wine which had turned to vinegar in the bottles, I mordanted the fibre in alum and then simmered it in the wine for a while. The resulting colour is a lovely dusky pink, somewhere between the colours in these pictures. It will stand up to gentle washing just like any other dye job, and seems light fast. I've had it in full sunshine for a week and haven't noticed any colour loss. People seem to get their knickers in a twist about natural dyes fading, but all dyes will fade if left in bright sunlight for long enough, natural dyes are probably more prone to fading, but that doesn't mean they don't have their place.


Emboldened by that success I've also been playing with the Birch leaves from the Birch tree that grows by our pond. I also tried out modifying the colours with iron solution.


The kitchen and the utility room are currently resembling a witch's cave according to my Dad with various pans bubbling away with various leaves and fibres, and several jars filled with bark soaking.
I'm about to start marking GCSE and A-Level exam papers and will be rather busy for a while so am indulging while I can!