SOS To All Dyers

q8~The Amaranth plant (Amaranthus cruentus) is an absolutely beautiful, purplish-leaved, large plant. It’s seeds were the main grain staple for the Aztecs in Mexico. I thought I was buying a Compositae family plant , since it was a six-pack, which has purple leaves and orange flowers, turned out I was wrong. The amaranth is an old friend with purplish leaves and stems, when it flowers it produces a long cluster of small, purplish, flowers. Quite attractive. I mean, look at the gorgeous color in the leaves! Anyway…… While sorting through my fibers, I found a small bit of the first fiber I ever tried to spin – Dorset. Decided it was the perfect size to see what type of dye Amaranth makes.

Amaranth plants in garden

Amaranth plants in garden

After cutting plants up and boiling for a bit to remove color from both leaves and stems I had a rather beautiful shade of dark, rose-colored pink. (Note: quite a bit has now evaporated)

Beautiful color of dye

Beautiful color of dye

Used a vinegar mordant. Color was yuck. Tried an alum mordant. This is the result:

Salmon colored sample

Salmon colored sample

When dyed, the Dorset fiber became a not-the-prettiest-washed-out-salmon color. Why? What is with the reddish dyes I make? Where am I going wrong? After the horribly yucky color the Raspberries made, I’m ready to just stick with the tried and true yellows and greens. SOS to any dyer. How can I make a natural dye that actually turns the fiber a nice pink color. I’m sure asking for red is too much. How about using beets? Input is so totally appreciated.

The Dead Tree And Me

q8~We’re re-landscaping the backyard. It’s gone to rack-and-ruin due to the Hubs accident and the dog digging it up looking for the gopher. The one item I will get a little weepy over is my dead, dwarf peach tree. I love this tree! All of my bird feeders hang from the tree. At any given time I can see at least 4 different species of visitors since there aren’t any leaves to hid them. Yesterday, at one time, I saw House Finch, Lesser-Green-Backed Goldfinch, Anna’s Hummingbird, Mourning Dove, and California Towhee. The new tree to replace it is a Palo Verde which has tiny little leaves so, hopefully, I’ll be able to easily see my little feathered friends.  Here are some of the easy-to-see-birds on my tree. Dead tree? Really? These are just a tiny fraction, not even the tip of the iceberg, of the birds visiting my favorite tree. For some reason, I’ve “lost” some of my favorite pics.

Bushtit

Bushtit

Anna's and Bushtit- I was aiming for Bushtit when Anna got in the pic

Anna’s and Bushtit- I was aiming for Bushtit when Anna appeared

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Female Hooded Oriole - Summer Visitor

Female Hooded Oriole – Summer Visitor

Male House Finch

Male House Finch

House Finch feeding baby

House Finch feeding baby

California Towhee kept moving

California Towhee kept moving

Lesser Green-backed Goldfinch male

Lesser Green-backed Goldfinch male

Lovely shadows on fence

Lovely shadows on fence

All photos were taken with my Canon Rebel.

The Monarch Is Here

~Any follower knows by now that we love butterflies and have landscaped our gardens to attract birds and butterflies. I specifically planted two Milkweed plants to attract Monarch butterflies. I really like the bright orange-and-yellow flowers on the plant and the seeds are wonderful, they are dispersed in the wind as are dandelion seeds.

Milkweed - not flowering yet

Milkweed – not flowering yet

While watering yesterday, a Monarch paid a visit to the garden. Fluttering around, I could almost feel the breeze of it’s wings as it flew quite near my right shoulder. I had camera in hand but held still while it flew around me. It finally picked a lantana’s nectar as a likely candidate for a snack.

Friendly Monarch "eating" a snack.

Friendly Monarch “eating” a snack.

When I went out to water the potted plants this morning, this is how I found one of the Milkweeds. They ate almost everything.

7 Monarch caterpillars stripped the Milkweed plant.

7 Monarch caterpillars stripped the Milkweed plant.

The caterpillars are really quite beautiful, but my question is: The Milkweed is not blooming, how the heck can they tell what it is? By smell? Recognizing the leaves? How?

I used my Canon Rebel XSi for the top two shots and Hubs Canon 5D-MK3 for the caterpillars.

Anna’s Always Around

q8~Anna’s always around; flitting from flower to flower, buzzing by our heads, sitting on my favorite dead dwarf peach (another story), squeaking at us, or just generally flying about. This hummingbird does not migrate from our area, even in the coldest San Diego weather, Anna is always around. We are amazed at how brazen this bird is, I guess without any natural predators she doesn’t have to be afraid. I know there are he’s, I swear I see the female more even though the male is “prettier” with the gorgeous red neck feathers.

During the fall, if we leave the front door open Anna’s will fly in straight through the house and try to get out of the vaulted-roof-high window. The Hubs has had to save many a hummer. He climbs up a ladder and plucks the bird down when it’s become too tired to fly. Holding the bird in your hand is as if you’re holding air.

When I go out to water the garden, I’ll spray the water into the air so Anna’s can come and enjoy. I was amazed the first time this happened.  Our garden has a lot of hummingbird friendly plants, so I figure I’m being thanked

Anna looking at me as I take her picture.

Anna looking at me as I take her picture.

Anna loving the purple salvia.

Anna loving the purple salvia.

Male Anna's enjoying the Verbena flower's nectar.

Male Anna’s enjoying the Verbena flower’s nectar.


I actually dusted off my Canon Rebel XSi with the 55 – 250 mm zoom lens to take pictures. My Anna’s deserve better than the iPhone point and click!

A WordPress Family Award

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. ~~RICHARD BACH

q8~I love this quote. It was borrowed from All Night Knits who just celebrated both her 50th post and a WordPress Family Award. We are so excited that she passed this wonderful award on to us. Her site is full of knitting, reading, photography, reading, and sharing. I smile at the pictures she takes using filters and apps, I love to do that too.

We have written before how much our blogger friends have influenced us through encouragement, wonderful ideas, and support. I can say that some of my blog friends have hit my wallet since I’ve had to purchase patterns, yarns, fiber, and other products because of their glowing blogs. In the year plus that we’ve been blogging, some of you have become as family to us. Thank you! The DIFFICULT part, for us,  is nominating only 10 blogs for this award, since we enjoy so many! When I’m having a down-in-the-dumps type of day my blogging family always lifts my spirits. So a heartfelt thanks to all of my blogging friends, you have enriched my life.

Wordpress Family Award

WordPress Family Award

Without further ado, these are the inspiring bloggers (in no particular order) we feel as if they have become part of us:

  • Celebrate Life! – An eclectic site for crafting, gardening, and food
  • Peacefully Knitting – A beautiful knitting, spinning, and reading site. Tina is one of the chosen few Rowan reps.
  • Fibercrush – Another eclectic site which explores crafts from the 70’s, knitting, sewing, using stash, dyeing techniques, and list goes on.
  • Gentlestitches – An amigurumi expert. Wonderful creatures. Yum, she actually calls it aussiegurumi, Australia amigurumi.
  • For the Knit of It – A knitting, spinning, and other stuff site offering a great tutorial Knitting 101. Has some clever off-beat things to make.
  • Pixelknit’s Ponderings – A knitting, spinning, journaling, crafting, on other great things site. Most of all, I love her book suggestions. I joined Goodreads thanks to her.
  • Crafty Tails – A site whose title says it all. Crafting, knitting, with a dog picture or two thrown in.
  • Introverted Knitter – A site with knitting, spinning and weaving. A wonderful writer, as an introvert myself, she often describes exactly how I feel in group settings.
  • Pillows A-La-Mode – A totally crafty site. Great repurposing ideas.
  • Colour Cottage – A site I first landed on because of her doodles. Stayed to see the wonderful yarn dyeing experiments and the spun fiber.

If you choose to pass on this award, here are the rules:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them.
5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people who have taken you as a friend, and spread the love.

Gardening Time Again

q8~It’s that time of year again! The days are getting longer so it’s no longer dark out when I awake. Ah, that means breakfast out on the patio while watching and listening to my feathered friends. Since it’s not too cold and not too hot, it’s just right for puttering around in the garden when breakfast is finished. My poor garden hasn’t quite re-cooped from the lack of attention due to our 3 week visit to Hawaii. Bad me, I let the foxtails take over. My lovely daughter Darcey saved the day by sending the most awesome gardening gloves for Mother’s Day.

Foxgloves = 0; Q = 100

Foxgloves = 0; Q = 100

Take that foxgloves, I didn’t have any scratches!

Darcey bought the gloves through Red Envelope one of her favorite online shopping sites. To check out other deals look at her site: theDealyo. Fantastic, money saving, ongoing deals every day. Look  how the gloves match the gardening apron mom made for me.

The best gardening gloves ever.

The best gardening gloves ever.

It Was Worth the Wait!!!

curls2

– Last year my husband and I started to landscape the backyard. Check out our blog on 28 Jun 2012, “Create Your Backyard Paradise!backyardbeforeWe had planned on putting in the sod lawn last October, but since our summers are so hot the companies don’t sell sod during that time. Sod is sold from May to August. Here is my husband putting down the first piece. I sent Q a picture as soon as it was done. She was right! What a difference!

backyardafterI am loving it. It has only been a few hours, and I can’t get seem to get enough of it. 🙂 (Q – I love to walk bare-footed through lawn. I cannot wait to run through this!)