Sunday, November 12, 2006

The other day, we unwrapped some of our compost-dyed silk hankie "experiments". These are SO fun. Basically, you use fabric (silk, in this case), treat it with a mordant (I've used copper, iron, or alum), sprinkle on a little salt, add some liquid (vinegar, wine, etc...) and then add "stuff" to it to give it color. The "stuff", in this case, being natural dyestuffs - things like onion skins, cabbage, tea, flowers, berries - whatever. You can even get great results with copper pennies or brillo pads, and I"m going to be playing with rusty stuff next. Anyway, you get your hankie all wadded up with this stuff. Then you let it compost/rot/ferment/cure for a few weeks. And if you're lucky, it makes cool designs on the fabric! The hard part is waiting a few weeks. It's best if you just do some, then totally forget about them.

For this latest batch, we used a variety of things. Elderberries, onion skins, sage leaves...I honestly don't remember what! The nice thing about these is, they are always "fixable". Some turn out great the first time. But, if you don't like the color, or the texture, you can just do it again! 2 of these I've washed and ironed, and will be using to wrap small xmas presents. 2 more have been deemed "unfinished" - i'll be checking out my stash of dyeable items (I've got onion skins, black walnut hulls, teabags, and cranberries on hand for sure...) and re-dyeing 2 of these, plus probably starting a few more.
I've always wanted to know how to make beer and wine and mead, but I've never just had the guts to jump in and do it. My friend Sandy told me about this place in Des Moines, Vines to Wine, where you go make your own wine. I've done 2 classes through them, and it's really cool! The first class, we used kits with pre-made mixes and made our wine. We'll be bottling that Dec. 9th. The second class, we actually got to "squish" our own grapes, then let them ferment. Just the other day we went back and pressed them, and we'll get to go back in the spring, and bottle our wine. THEN we have to wait 1-3 years to drink the wine. EEP! This is definately all about patience.