This is a cozy time of year around here. We’ve only had a little snow so far and I don’t usually need a jacket when I go out to quickly get the mail or to check on the chickens. But on cold days we get to experience that gratification that comes from going from the cold into a warm house. Making a hot beverage. It’s nice.
I have been gravitating to hibernating activities this week. Hibernation time is never fast and feels so right when it arrives.
First, I am making some sourdough starter. It is magic to mix some flour and water and within a few hours find it bubbling with yeast. What I am told is that there is wild yeast in the air that will join it. We can’t see it or smell it or taste it but it is there waiting for some flour and water to come along.
For a few days I will take away half of the starter that is there each day and add more flour and water. In time I will make tangy sourdough bread with it. In the meantime I can throw what is removed each day into other baked food to add flavor and texture. Yesterday I threw it willy nilly into banana bread I was making and suffered no repercussions. One day it will be in waffles. My next sourdough adventure will be a new one. I will dry what I remove that day as a way to preserve it. There are claims it can keep up to a year or more dried and quickly be alive again. I guess that is why the early settlers used it so much.
But for now my little concoction is living quietly on top of the tv. Not so I can keep an eye on it like a helicopter parent but because the box is warm and yeast likes warm. I wasn’t about to put a heating pad under it or even keep it in the oven with the light on which is recommended if you keep your house below 68 degrees which we do. Finding something that already gives off warmth is best I think.
From a more colorful perspective I decided to dye wool with marigolds and onion skins that I have been letting dry for probably two years now. I do both chemical and natural dyeing and decide what to do based on my inclination at the time. Natural dyeing with plants begins with soaking them for several hours in tap water so that they can give out their dye. Isn’t it pretty at this stage?
This dye is very strong willed. Some of it comes out even in the cold soaking water. I can dye more than one set of fibers in the same warm dye bath because the dye doesn’t get used up quickly. The jar on the left is dye that came out in the cold soaking and the dye on the right is from the hot dye bath. I diluted the dye from the hot bath when I used it.
I simmered the botanicals for an hour, took them out, added my fiber and love the results. Some of this fiber was light gray initially before its golden bath, most fiber was in the first bath, but others in the second and third baths because the dye just kept hanging around. The blue/yellow/green one that sticks out so much was an experiment. I sprinkled a little of a chemical dye that is blue on top of the bath to get the variety.
The appeal to me is not to spin miles of yellow yarn but instead to use it with other colors for colorful spinning batts and unique yarn. The only problem is that I have to let it dry overnight. I have trouble not touching it and pulling it apart a little to see how it will spin or how the dye permeated it. It would felt if I did that and right now I don’t want felt.
So, this a calm time when slow projects, that cost very little money because you use what you already have, are fun to pursue. I have really only just begun both of these activities because in time there will be bread to bake and colorful fibers to combine at my whim. In time.
I love the colors and the process you describe, and especially the idea of the dye being “strong willed”!