My partner has been complaining about the freezer being filled to the brim with petals of the rhododendron (collected by me after he pruned it), columbines, and from the pansies not only the petals – the stems and leaves as well, since I started a new hobby.
But the guilt I experience because of my solar dyeing has nothing to do with him. What I am afraid of is ruining resources for bees and butterflies in our garden. And we all know these lovely creatures can use all the help they can get.
Solar dyeing is nothing but a glass jar filled with (preferably pre-soaked) yarn, water and a natural ingredient to extract the color from. This ingredient is called dyestuff and the mentioned petals and other things I gathered can be the dyestuff for several jars which are then put in the windowsill.
Guilt All Over The Place
So far I have been trying small samples to save on both yarn and my own energy (ME does that to me). At first, most experiments I started with on this small scale, while working my way through several different dyestuffs methodically, failed. Well, not if brown is your favorite color, because I got eight shades of brown while loads of people online happily shared getting blue yarn using black beans. The outcome of using red cabbage or the green of pansies also wasn’t worth mentioning. The petals were now my only hope.
But I felt uncomfortable using petals from the garden, with every flower I picked my guilt increased. So I changed my tactics and started taking only the wilting flowers. These are easily spotted when it comes to pansies and the trick for the columbine flowers is to check for pollen. If the flowers look rather dry at the inside – no yellow on the stamen, the petals can be removed without using too much strength.
About every other day I would go looking for wilted petals. Being busy gathering these, I often forgot to check if there was enough food in the bird’s house. Indeed, the guilt popped up everywhere, but I can assure you that while I am typing this the birds are knee deep in sunflower and other seeds.
The berries of the oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) are going to be mine. There is no way I can feel the slightest hesitation picking these berries when the time is right (the time being ripe, as we say in Dutch. I am a punny girl). The few berries I spotted recently, are only two to three feet from the ground and with an abundance of cats in this area, I am sure the birds are better off with the berries from the bigger laurel bushes or bird cherries (Prunus padus).
At the end of that same day my lovely partner suggested not to collect more things for my natural dyeing that needed to be stored in the freezer he was silly enough to buy us avocados. Both the skin and the stones of the avocado are known for its value as a dyestuff. It can give a delicate shade of pink. Are you pitying him already?
Thankfully, Jonatan never complains when I ask him to take me for a stroll around the neighborhood with me in the wheelchair. And there it hit me last week: all those lovely flowers growing in the gardens nearby. Especially the vibrant colors of the dark pink and velvet, almost black, red roses.
Good thing I am in a wheelchair, or I would have been roaming the streets at night. I cannot ever imagine asking him to help me with this, he has got loads on his plate already. This means I am looking for volunteers. Perhaps there is an awesome reader out there that would like to take me after dark.
We’ll only be stealing wilted rose-petals from people’s garden, because the bees and butterflies are still our top priority. You can hardly call that theft, can you?
If you enjoyed this story, you might want to read The Guilty Knitter.
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This post is also available in: Dutch