Beetle · Dyeing

Dyeing with Lichen

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Dear Fern,

It has been awhile since I have done any more experimenting with natural dyes, but I have been collecting stray bits of lichen that I often see on the ground at school in the hopes of doing something spectacular with them. I’m very grateful for this article, by Alissa Allen, which is a wonderful source of information and includes good recipes for dyeing with lichens. Did you know that lichens are symbionts, made of a combination of a fungus and a cyanobacteria or algae? I somehow made it to adulthood without learning that bit of trivia. So, some lichens don’t yield any dye at all. Some lichens dye bright yellow, some dark brown, some golden, or tan. These are the easiest to dye with, because you can just toss them in a dyepot and boil them up! You don’t even have to mordant your wool, because lichen dyes are substantive. Which is why, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I looked at the pile of unidentified lichen I had collected and figured I would just do a quick test to see if I could get any color out of it. 20 minutes later my little piece of test yarn was golden! Yay!

I will have to update you on this experiment further in a few months, because there is another type of lichen that, when fermented using a water and ammonia mixture, will make pink or purple dye! I’ve got a couple of jars of that sitting on top of our fridge right now. And, there’s one lichen that even dyes pink, and then the color turns to blue as the yarn dries in the sun. I really can’t wait to try that!

But for now, this golden beauty will do.

Missing you,

Beetle

P.S. I know you thought of your wedding planner when you read the title of this post.

P.P.S. To anyone out there reading this who wants to start collecting lichen to use as dyes, please remember to collect ethically—only take lichen that is abundant or already detached from its substrate. Lichens are very slow-growing and may not recover from overharvesting.

Beetle

Echoing Their Joyous Strains

Angels

Dear Fern,

I wanted to show you these precious little angels—my most beloved and prized Christmas ornaments that I have had since I was a child. Their little metallic loops broke off long ago so they can no longer adorn our tree but I love and treasure them nonetheless. They stand about one inch tall. I don’t have any information about their origin or who made them. When I was young, I used to imagine that they came to life at night and would fly around our living room. When I look at them now, I can still feel that magic. I just love their sweet faces! I think they were my very first peg dolls!

Merry Christmas!

xoxo

Beetle

Beetle · Sewing

Boxing and Unboxing

fragile

Dear Fern,

We made it to Spokane. Taking the scenic route, we drove just over 3,000 miles. But according to the Google maps, we are only 2,554 miles apart. I miss you! My crafts and supplies are everywhere. There’s a puddle of blank peg dolls on the floor of the room I’ve designated as my studio space. It’s in the basement but it has a nice window and lots of room to spread out. I somehow managed to sew up a lunch bag for the girl before school started, despite not having any real chairs in the house yet. I used this pattern from DesignBlanche on Etsy. It’s nice and big and will hold a water bottle and a hearty lunch inside.

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lunchbag2

Remember the day we went to the quilt store in that little town where the fiber festival was and I bought this pink floral print and the blue shot cotton?

I’m thinking about Autumn and all the knitting that needs to get done before it gets cold. I can’t wait to start our Churchmouse poncho knit-along! (But I need to find where I packed away the pattern first.)

Your Sister-In-Craft,

Beetle

P.S. Thank you for reminding me to write yarn on all of the book boxes that I stuffed yarn into. I think I’ve found it all.

Beetle · Festivals · Peg Dolls

Martinmas: Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer

lanternpegs

Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer

Little light a-shimmer

Over rocks and sticks and stones

Wandering, tripping, Little Gnomes!

Pee-wit, pee-wit, tik-a-tik-a tik! Roo-coo! Roo-coo!

Dear Fern,

Every time we celebrate a festival at our school, I always say, “This one is my most favorite!” So it comes as no surprise that I just love Martinmas and the lantern walk that we hold at the school each fall. I adore every part of it: the lanterns that the children make at school to light and carry on the dark path through the woods, the beautiful songs we all sing together as we make our way (sometimes wandering and tripping), and the perfectly-warmed apple cider we all share at the end of the evening back in the safety of the familiar playground. The whole event just fills my spirit with warmth and light.

To celebrate at home, I made these little Lantern Children peg dolls for our nature table. I had knitted the little capes sometime last summer, and set them aside when they didn’t work for the project I was working on at the time. So it was almost as if I had planned it when I absolutely, positively, had to make those lantern children right-this-instant! I love it when a craft comes together.

Now I had better get back to crafting for our table at the upcoming Holiday Faire!

Your Sister-In-Craft,

Beetle

Beetle · Peg Dolls

Spring is Coming! Spring is Coming!

sproutmain

Dear Fern,

FINALLY! I thought this winter would never end. And, if next week’s forecast is to be believed, perhaps it hasn’t. But I’m choosing to ignore that. It seems the warmer days are starting to outnumber the colder days and little green sprouts are starting to pop up in even the brownest of patches. Every year we start some seeds inside just to have something green and growing to gaze upon, but with the hustle and bustle this year, we simply forgot. So the other day I made this little sprout peg doll. He is so fun to pull out of his little pot of wooly “soil.” And plant again. And pluck, and plant!

Um, Fern? Your Cloudberry Babies are outrageously adorable! I just want to squeeze them all, but especially that green one in the shop. He’s extra-delicious. That face. . . So sweet! I can’t wait to see what you make next.

Best,

Beetle

sprout

Beetle · Peg Dolls · Softies

Gnomes

gnomes

Dear Fern,

After a much-too-long hiatus filled with daydreaming and the endless reorganization (erm, cleaning off) of my sewing table, I’ve finally been crafting again! A good friend is celebrating the Festival of Ayyám-i-Há this week and she asked me to create some small gifts for her three daughters. She handed me her copy of Gnomes by Wil Huygen and said, “Make some of your peg people.” Gnomey pegs? Yes, please! And here is how they turned out. I made three pairs. My favorite detail is the gray braids on the girl gnome with just a bit of a blond streak left. I hope they are happy in their new home. There are lots of animals to tend to and of course three girls to play with!

Kindest Regards,

Your Sister-In-Craft, Beetle.

P.S. I also made some little mouse friends to send along with the gnomes. Here is one of them.

mouse