all wound up

I borrowed a swift and ball winder from a friend (she borrowed my blocking wires, it’s a fabulous arrangement)…

Last weekend I boiled up that bright fresh Phaeolus (it was much yellower than in the photos), and re-dyed the rather blah icelandic (on the left on the rack in the photo). I wanted a little richer color for the superwash too (on the right on the rack), so I put the lighter ends of the skeins in the dyebath, and then just piled the rest on top (some got wet, some didn’t).

phaeolus cakes (7) phaeolus cakes (6)
It’s hard to capture this color! These came the closest… The biggest cake is the superwash, the medium super bright is the icelandic, and the smallest is the superwash that didn’t get dyed a second time.

The superwash came out really well…
phaeolus cakes
Deep, variable, rich color, and really soft (the two mini cakes didn’t get redyed). The icelandic didn’t come out as soft, but it’ll be good for mittens.

leaning tower of koolaid

koolaid cakes
Another hard color to capture… the little ball on top is closest to the real color. Much better color for a red scarf!

good news bad news

good news

I don’t have a brain tumor.

bad news

They still don’t know why I can’t smell.

good news

I’m not smelling smoke all the time anymore, and the other day I actually caught whiffs of real things: buttery baked goods (while following a bowl of hot croissants down some stairs) and cilantro (when I walked into the supermarket produce section).

bad news

The kiddo “tested” me this afternoon. He was wearing “about a pound of cologne” that he got at the movie theater bathroom. Which I don’t really consider bad news (not smelling it that is). Then he told me, and I sniffed his arm, and then I smelled it. GACK.

bad news

what a week… nothing serious, but it felt long

good news

It’s FRIDAY! And I’m sitting here with one of these,
Still don’t know what this is called. It’s 1 part lime juice, 2 parts gin, 3/4 part simple syrup. Muddle “some” basil leaves, add the rest, shake with some ice, pour into a glass.

creature feature

Look what I found yesterday in our driveway,
snake 001 snake 005

A young milk snake. I read about them this morning in Maine Amphibians and Reptiles, which said that they don’t like being handled, will bite, are a little aggressive, look like timber rattlers, constrict their prey, and will even shake their tail in the dry leaves to sound like a rattle. This one was shaking its tail like mad. I just grabbed it mid body rather than behind its head, and it tried to bite me… if its mouth was any bigger it would have, as it was its fangs just grazed my skin. When I got a better hold on it, it did its constrictor thing and tried to strangle my fingers. Not a very big brain in that tiny head…

It was very happy to get away,
snake 006
which is rather smart.

coming full circle

When I was maybe 21 I started this interest in what could be done with the plants that grow around us… what’s edible, what’s medicinal, what’s useful in other ways. I dyed up some yarn I got at some fair with black walnuts and at least one or two other things, and even though I hardly knew how to knit, I made an Andean style hat with llamas and earflaps. In my memory it came out pretty well, but it’s long gone, along with the man I gave it to (actually I left him, and the hat ended up with a daughter of a friend out west).

I had quit mechanical engineering school and was drifting around odd jobs in Syracuse, when one day I wandered through Illick Hall on my way to a bookstore job. There was a display in the lobby of lichens and mosses. I had been reading about lichens as dye plants and was amused at the idea of setting them in a bucket of stale urine in the sun to get some amazing colors.

So I hunted down the professor. I found out he taught a bryoecology class (ecology of bryophytes, an upper level class) and it was starting soon and I wanted in. He asked if I had any college level biology coursework, I said no. He told me the class was mosses and liverworts not lichens, I said I didn’t care I still wanted to take it. He was reluctant to let me in, but he did. And I got an A. And that fall I was enrolled full time as a plant ecology student to finish up my BS. I credit him much with that decision. He was a great professor, a natural teacher, who shared his enthusiasms and interests.

Anyhow, you’ll note my recent, um, obsession with fungi and dyeing. Look what came to me recently,
A lichen called rock tripe (lichens are a symbiosis of fungi and blue green algae)

Um, yeah, you can eat the stuff, but I imagine it’s little better than shoe leather.

Anyhow, I’ve been making use of interlibrary loan,
and Casselman says that stale urine is little more offensive than ammonia. I think collecting it will be a weekend activity.

I only browsed the book a bit, but it looks really informative. And potentially entertaining. She has a “how to identify” section for all the plants. Here’s the one for beets: “look at the supermarket for a red, bulbous-shaped, tuberous vegetable with large green and red-veined leaves“. Or you could just look for the sign or tag.

dyeing peeing pigs and more

kool aid!

Overdyed this gray superwash, half of it in black cherry and half in cherry kool aid. I’m thinking it’s for Norma’s red scarf project… but it ended up a little too purple, so I dyed the undyed ends again. In cherry. Because some person bought all the strawberry in Augusta, which is what I’d intended to use.
koolaid dye red koolaid dye red (8) kool aid again
For the middle photo I knew black cherry was on the left, but now I don’t know what’s what.

more Phaeolus

It just never ends. Last weekend we took the girls for a walk at Alonzo Garcelon Wildlife Mgmt Area, and to look for more dyer’s polypore. Which we found… more than in the last post! We walked down to Spectacle Pond, which was gorgeous!
alonzo garcelon 15aug2010 (1)

Today kiddo and I took the girls out behind the airport (which the muckity mucks are calling something else these days), to a spot where we found this fungus last year. Kiddo says “what does it look like” and I tell him and he says “like this?”. And then I say, oh, let’s wander that way, looks interesting over there and he says “these?” “yep”.
I think we’re pretty well stocked now. But if I see more, I’ll probably bring it home and dry it… maybe thinking ahead for fungus trade for other dye mushrooms…

Check out the maze like pattern of the pores!
phaeolus22aug2010 underside

but you really want to know about the peeing, right?

This was my toilet this week…
bathroom (3)

Bathroom before (a whopping almost 5 feet by 7, and this is our big one):
bathroom_before (1) bathroom_before
Yet another use for duct tape. The sink has a dark towel in it because the drain is not connected, so nobody tosses a glass of water in there at night (or any other time). We were without the sink for almost a month. The shower surround has been taped for maybe 3 or 4 months.

And now, not quite finished, but eminently usable. The toilet actually flushes with one push of the handle (the old one did not)! We found out after we purchased a surround that our tub is 3 inches narrower than most… so we had to go back and get the single style that would fit. Crappy shelf set up, but I found some good suctiony baskets. Oh, and the sink overflow works… the old one never did, and I was always grossed out by what got caught in there.
bathroom 003 bathroom 001 bathroom 002


I’ve had a hard time lately with salt shakers. The salt just gets glommed in there, even with rice. So a friend gifted me with a bamboo salt pig! She has one and her salt never gets caked. It works great!
salt pig salt pig (1)


I forget what else… I got most of a sleeve done on the sweater I’m working on and realized it’s a little baggy… so I started the other one, winging it versus following the pattern. Here’s hoping it is better.

some knitting, more mushrooms, and some surprise color

Color first, no?

Look at the surprise this week at work…
work plants work plants (1) work plants (2)
This was a “rescue” and after a year or so it has flowered. Must like the window it sits in… but on the day it flowered, I put it right in the middle of my office so I could see it from my desk! The reproductive parts look so interesting!

Just behind my monitors is this somewhat phallic plant, I always forget what it is called…
work plants (3)

And in front of my monitors I have a little help…
work toy

actual knitting

Vanille (ravelry link)
vanille vanille (2)
That second photo is wicked fuzzy… sorry! I am almost done w/ the body, and then on to the sleeves.

mushroom madness continues

Look what DH brought home from a day in the woods…
more phaeolus
Two more big Phaeolus! I might over-dye the yarn I did the other day. He made some comment that I should dry them so they don’t mold, and to not dissuade him from getting me more, I’ve chopped it up and spread it out on a cookie sheet that I put in my car.

I have some ideas about collecting enough of this and that mushroom and doing a real experiment.

But before that I am thinking to overdye some grey wool with koolaid for Norma’s red scarf project… pics when I have them.


I skyped this morning with a young woman in Australia. What a blast! She’s from Barcelona and misses speaking in Spanish, and I want to practice because I forget so much. It worked really well (once I figured out how to get my microphone switched to the webcam)… some Spanish, some English, some Spanglish. I found her in Ravelry, in a Spanish speaking knitter’s group. We’ll do it again, maybe next weekend.