Brown cotton seeds starting to come up. Cotton is always interesting to watch. The plant starts elbowing up and as the leaves open up they push off the seed casing.
And the Woad. Woad is not a desert plant. (Pause for a moment of duh.) It requires some extra care when weather is hot and dry. These two are surviving but look a bit raggedy here due to snacking by bugs. Moved them to a different corner and mixed up some insecticidal soap. Hoping for the best here.
This one is embarrassing. About a year or so ago I received a box of heirloom cotton. The project was to gin it, spin, and do something. It sat on my desk for way to long while I’d occasionally get some of the ginning done, comb, roll some punis, spin a bit and that was about it.
Since I’ve been working from home – the faux cubicle with a view – I got on a roll hand ginning all the cotton. Unlike my backyard Pima this cotton didn’t peel easily off the seeds. I ginned through Zoom meetings, breaks, the occasional netflix movie and about two weeks into quarantine that part was finished.
Originally I learned how to spin cotton on a book charkha from Eileen Hallman / New World Textiles (https://newworldtextiles.com/). She’s a fabulous teacher and if you have the chance to take one of her workshops do so.
Over time my cotton spinning preference has been the Ashford Charkha. I’m able to spin in a chair with the weel in my lap. Wheel base is less than a foot in length and very portable.
About the Woad. I haven’t written much about Woad since there hasn’t been any for awhile. Woad is not a desert plant. (Pause for a moment of duh.) My area of southern California is what some may call “reclaimed desert”. Something you can forget until the car breaks down in the San Fernando Valley in July and there is your reminder.
Two years of drought wiped out whatever Woad I still had growing. But, I still have seeds from the last plant so I’m going to try again this year. Nothing of course can wipe out Oxalis. And the bees like it.
My other on-going project will be mordanting cotton following the method described in John Liles ‘Art and craft of natural dyeing”. Lots of scouring, soaking and then mordanting, more steeping, more soaking and then you get to the actual dying.
Ida Grae points out that most cooking herbs will produce yellows. If I can eat or use something as a medicinal I tend not to dye with it but the Rosemary here is so plentiful it’s worth trying. Same probably goes for Lavender but I haven’t tried that yet.
*Ida Grae / Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, 1979.