Archive for the ‘The garden’ Category

other threads

October 20, 2016

There were seemingly invisible glistening strands running from plant to plant and stem to stem in this morning’s light. With the sun’s reflection the “stitches” appeared and disappeared – another reflection of the season.

web with stitches

web with stitches

I still don’t remember whether I intentionally planted this or whether it’s wild. It doesn’t matter as it’s putting on a vibrant show where so many of my summer blooms have dried up in the summer heat.  I won’t be pulling it up.

mystery "sunflower"

mystery “sunflower”

Progress on the third yukata is slow, but that’s sometimes the nature of it. I’m pleased with the results of the first overlap piece in mokume – wood grain pattern. I’ve begun dyeing a sleeve, and then it’s one more overlap. Can’t wait to begin the assembly.

mokume overlap detail

mokume overlap detail

The last few days have been unseasonably warm, confusing the critters, including a copperhead that visited.   He disappeared quickly enough and I hope that means he ventured off into the woods behind my house.   With cooler temps coming, they’ll be in hibernation soon, I’m told.


keeping it simple

December 30, 2015

In the midst of visiting and “working” with my mother this month, there was time for walks and talks with family in the balmy Tampa temps, Christmas lights and nourishing, delicious eats. Needless to say, it provided the same comfort as a warm hearth: cheering, nurturing and enjoyable.

a light show we encountered on one night's stroll...

a light show we encountered on one night’s stroll…

On returning home, it was good to move into my own home preparations, which were fairly simple. I always make cinnamon twist rolls – a reference to my mother’s Christmas baking.

Sweet Trolls2

She often made cinnamon rolls with icing, sometimes on a Sunday. But, it seems consistently, for Christmas morning, she baked them. I recall her starting the dough the day before, setting a large bowl of dough on the oil heater (covered, used it to warm the house back then), and the aroma of rising dough filling the house. To be able to pass this memory on to my family with my own baking is beyond satisfying.

It has been like spring all week – I wonder how long some flowers will last? I can bring the Passion vine indoors before the cold sets in finally. Today, however, we’re experiencing thunderstorms and the blossoms are wilted and soaked.


This Daphne may be blooming early, but over the last few years it has been encased in ice – I’ve missed its exquisite fragrance. Not so this year.

Good-bye Year of the Sheep!

Good-bye Year of the Sheep!

There’s been little time for ‘that’ work or making in spite of the temps and it’s hard not to be doing it. There’s been an abundance of rain and more to come. That adds to the challenge. We’re moving toward cooler temps in the New Year. And the new is around the bend. I wonder what it holds?

this time of year

November 5, 2015

How is it that “nature” decided it was time for the indigo harvest? Yesterday, in my routine garden walk-through, I found no blossoms at all, save for a few leftover scraps. Both beds had been pretty thoroughly cleaned out. Was it deer? It had to have been – tasty greens, I suppose, but they weren’t greens. I had no idea they were so discriminating. Only the tops where blooms (and seeds) grew were removed. Dessert perhaps?

The blossoms are no longer....

The green remains

I’ve felt fairly immune from these visitors and really had no idea they were coming in so close to my little flower beds. Next year, I’ll approach things differently and with them in mind.

crape myrtle, mulberry for starters, also sweet gum....

crape myrtle, mulberry for starters, also sweet gum….

There’s an abundance and a variety of leaves in my small yard. I’ve added trees and shrubs as well, but mostly, I know that my presence is an imposition on the surrounding nature. My attempts to tame and remove whatever wild sprouts up is basically futile.

detail from

detail from “Elements”

Even though, I seek to tame it, I love the colors, blossoms produced and the fauna it attracts. And if you’re a reader, you’re aware that I also enjoy documenting it. From time to time, it makes its way into my making (above detail).

small impressions

small impressions

Lately, though, after attending the Waitzkin workshop and seeing various blogs and imagery elsewhere, I thought while the leaves were “ripening” on my lawn, I should gather some and see what could be done with them.

faint outlines of sweet gum?

faint outlines of sweet gum?

While I didn’t succeed, I didn’t entirely fail.  I see the potential. For one, I didn’t mordant the cotton (that may have been one aspect of it’s not working). There may have been other elements that played a part as well. I did wrap my leaf bundles securely around cherry tree sticks and boiled them for roughly an hour. That resulted in a pleasant aromatic “tea”. They soaked in it for a couple of days and then were unwrapped.

It was a first “just jump in and do it” – never mind the prep – stab at eco-printing. I realize there’s lots to learn in the process, and using what’s in my backyard has tremendous appeal, especially this time of year.

different harvests

October 22, 2015

To have had a harvest at all was surprising and perhaps serendipity.  Last winter’s late blast seemed to have diminished any possibility of fruit this fall.  At least, that’s been my theory.  I don’t really know.

surprising harvest

surprising harvest

It was a lot less fruit this year, but they were larger.  I was watching four persimmons all summer, but an extra two made their appearance when the oranges and reds emerged just before frost.  The deep red one on the right has already been sampled – mildly sweet.

early frost

early frost

And speaking of the season, frost came early this year and I’m doing all I can to help the indigo along. I’m still hoping for seeds, so keeping tabs on the nighttime temps.  For the moment, we seem to be in a kind of Indian Summer.

texture study

texture study

A study by one of my students in this month’s series of classes on creating texture. They are engaged in their pursuits, exploring the fibers – a variety of cottons – textures in different contexts – water studies, landscape…and in that limited palette of indigo and white.

handwoven cotton

handwoven cotton

I’m exploring too, and it is a slow and patient process – not so much about imagery or results as it is about the nature of it.  I’m thinking about indigo here.

the light has shifted

October 9, 2015

The sun is out finally and even in a week’s time the light has shifted. My small raised beds are mostly in shade now. Still, the seeds I planted in the spring are finally beginning to bloom, so I hope they will yet produce some seed.

Milkweed finally beginning to blossom in the autumnal morning light

Milkweed finally beginning to blossom in the autumnal morning light

If protected from frost, there might be a chance for further development along that line. The early cold snaps, in general, don’t always last in this area.

“texture” study

Another “texture” piece – water, fins…it touches on themes in my upcoming class.  It was an experiment and  wonder if I’d chosen a different cloth or perhaps if the vat was a little more “energetic” how different would the results be? The fish was more complicated than anticipated.

Elements of the Season - detail

Elements of the Season – detail

Today, the stitching is complete – one element of the piece recalls the unusual rains we had recently. The stitches made me think of raindrops as I worked.

editing, and re-editing because I couldn't

editing, and re-editing because I couldn’t “save” it – frustration city.

I’m between computers at the moment, making another transition before this old one suddenly crashes. Last night, I was beginning a relearning of GIMP – I haven’t used it for years. It’s sophisticated and challenging. My mind feels a bit rusty.

things autumnal

September 24, 2015

There has been that subtle change in the light for some time now and it has felt autumnal in that the humidity has dropped. The leaves on my cherry tree are turning yellow and falling as are others.

indigo tends to be reflective, so the cloth was actually darker

indigo tends to be reflective, so the cloth was actually darker

Nighttime temps are also falling, but they’ll be up and down until later in the month. However, it’s going to affect the vat – something I need to bear in mind. Today, though, reduction and color is satisfying.

tiny flowers reminiscent of sakura

tiny flowers reminiscent of sakura

The indigo has begun to bloom. It’s late, but we will have Indian summer – the growing season isn’t over by a long shot.

silk/rayon piece in indigo

silk/rayon piece in indigo

I’m in the process of unbinding this scarf or piece – it took months to stitch, so is there any hurry in unwrapping it?

a peek at the pattern - can you see it?

a peek at the pattern – can you see it?

It was simply an exploration in pattern, very nearly ended up red and not indigo. Indigo was the easier way to go at this point.

texture study

texture study

In preparing for my upcoming workshop, I’ve been exploring those different aspects of texture in different contexts. Each context holds a world of possibility – that means not just the aspect of the exploration, but maybe even stories.



Another sure sign of autumn – it always blooms around the equinox, sometimes on the day.   Today we had full bloom.  I begin looking for shoots mid-September and then watch the bloom process – so rewarding. The Japanese call it Higanbana.


September 18, 2015

Flying in earlier this week,  the lakes and rivers were a welcoming indigo blue.

welcoming blues - heartening


A good sign! I’ve been away for a bit.

butterfly bush

butterfly bush

Other good signs – it has taken all summer to coax this bush to bloom. Was it the heat or lack of rain? I can’t be sure, but we have bloom.

promise of seeds....


This shows promise of seeds later in the season. I’d started talking to the plants out of desperation.

beginnings of indigo bloom - can't wait.

beginnings of indigo bloom – can’t wait.

I thought they would never bloom, now suddenly, there is promise, possibility.

morning's dip

morning’s dip

Yes, vat, I’m back.

potential for blue

April 16, 2015

I won’t mention it (rehtaew eht). I know I’m always talking about it, but I’m so dependent on what “it” does. It can’t be helped.

Woad flower

Woad flower

One of the many blossoms opening this week – woad. It grew from seed (Milkweed seed).   I thought it would never take off last year.  Yet, here is one result after this winter’s ice and snow. This is the best of the bunch, so it looks like chances are good for an abundant seed harvest (I hope).

I see lots of potential here.

I see lots of potential here.

It’s past the time for harvesting the leaves – should have done that last year. My plants were so small. It’s a biennial, giving good leaves one year (for the dye), flowers and seeds the next. I’m learning.

first indigo sprouts of the season

first indigo sprouts of the season

On the other hand, new indigo sprouts – just this week. They’ll need to mature a bit before transplanting into a new bed.

Consider this entry a little sprout – sometimes it’s difficult to articulate the words, in a sensible manner, for all of the life that goes around.  This is a little something, but one of the many that makes the day, the week or the season…well worth the living.

花見・Hana mi/Flower viewing

March 25, 2015
closing in on Art in Bloom

closing in on Art in Bloom

The NC Museum of Art opened its doors to 花見・Hana mi/Flower Viewing with Art in Bloom last weekend. It was a grand welcome to spring. Read Dana Watson’s description and photos of the event. You’ll see what I mean.

inspired by Aaron Douglas' Harriett Tubman

inspired by Aaron Douglas’ Harriett Tubman

I spent a part of two days walking through the exhibit. It brought a fresh perspective to the collection, seeing pieces I hadn’t seen or remembered from previous visits. More explorations are in order, I suspect.

Lenten Roses

Lenten Roses

Another place for flower viewing was the NC Governor’s Mansion. I visited there with my sister and friends. The gardens there are just getting started, but their raised beds were an inspiration.

raised beds - Governor's mansion

raised beds – Governor’s mansion

It warmed up just enough this week, making it possible to put some small napkin or hankie sized pieces on the line. These are still in process and look forward to seeing the results.


linen napkins in indigo

There should be some reflection of the season in them.

驚いた事・the suprising

May 15, 2014

My persimmon tree bloomed for the first time this year (the surprise). I can’t recall it ever happening before so I’ve been intrigued with the blooms. I like their shapes for one.


male blossoms – in clusters


female blossoms

After some research, I’ve come to realize that some persimmons produce female blossoms, others male and some have both (the case with my Chocolate Persimmon). The bees have been busy working amongst them in the mornings and late afternoons. Fruit promises to be abundant.

early fruit - newborn?

early fruit – newborn?

As I mentioned earlier, my Threads (critique group) group gathered at my house on Saturday for a work session – a large project we have a small part in.

And I’m learning new things from it.

Besides gathering materials and tools for this weekend’s workshop for the Gregg, it seemed appropriate to work up a fresh piece. I’ve been wanting to do this since my first encounter with the pieces that are now on exhibit – something that references one aspect or motif from those pieces on display. It’s in process and hope to complete it for dyeing at the workshop – I hope.

** tidbit:  驚いた事・おどろいた・odoroita – surprising

事・こと・koto・things that occur/happen

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