June 21, 2013

Wild Color

Happy longest day of the year!  I am at the 37th parallel; I wasn't able to manage a trip home to the 49th parallel where the longest day really is long, but I like to mark the occasion.

I finished reading Jenny Dean's Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes.  Back at Christmas, around the shortest day of the year, I read three quarters of the way through a borrowed copy and then had return it.  So now I've finished up.

I hope to use Dean's instructions for madder and for woad sometime.

The book has good photographs of dye plants.  I should spend some time memorizing the names and corresponding leaves for hawthorn, blackthorn, buckthorn, sumac, dock, elderberry, rowan, and tansy.  Not that I want to dye with them.  I just never know when I'll be out for a walk with family members who are given to starting brisk games of "name that plant."  I can never remember if it's tansy or yarrow.

The book was originally published in the United Kingdom.*  With all the plants the author discusses, many are familiar to me because I'm from Vancouver Island, Canada, a place with a similar climate and a landscape shaped by English and Scottish settlers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

*I had to buy a version revised for the U.S. market so its title is missing the 'u' in colour.

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