I’m fighting off yet another cold… I seem to have a cycle of activity of one week of frantic activity followed by the next where I do hardly anything. Cause and effect, maybe?

On Saturday we all went out into the country to pick blackberries for blackberry jelly. DH makes this and usually goes with one or more of the kids but I decided to come with them this year to see if I could find any more elderberries. I quite fancy making elderberry wine! However, there weren’t any where we went to – maybe they don’t like wet ground. It was on the Gwent levels near to the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary and lots of water everywhere!

We got lots of blackberries anyway!
stockpot full of blackberries

I also picked some rosehips – I think I’ll make these into rose hip syrup or jelly or something. At the moment they’re sitting in the fridge till I feel like attacking them!


I picked some hawthorn berries too, just to see if they had any medicinal value. Apparently all parts of the hawthorn are good for blood pressure problems, not that I have any but having them sort of helps me to remember the functions of these medicinal herbs, if you see what I mean. They are edible and slightly sweet. Apparently country kids used to eat them as snacks.

hawthorn berries

I picked some sloes… not many! Maybe I’ll get out and get some more later on… these are now sitting in the freezer because apparently it helps to freeze them to break down the flavours when you use them. Isn’t the internet a wonderful treasurehouse of information?

a few sloes!

I also found these teazels. They used to be used for carding fibres. I think. There we are – that’s my textile contribution for this blog post!

two teazel stems

Herbal potions!

Earlier this week I went for a walk along the canal and picked some elderberries. The birds had beaten me to it on quite a few bushes, but I found some. Nearly fell in the ditch at one point….

elderberries in margarine tub

Here they are waiting for me to use them.

Elderberries are very good for colds and flu, both prevention and reducing the severity of symptoms. I decided to make a herbal tincture by covering them with vodka.

elderberry tincture in jar

Here they are sitting in the jar. Now I just have to put them in a dark place, shake them every day for about three months then strain off the elderberries, rebottle it and put it in the medicine cabinet! Hmm, that reminds me, just off to give them today’s shake!

Dyeing days

Fabric in dyepots!

dyeing fabric in jamjars

I started off doing some dyeing in plastic bags. I dyed one piece in each to start with, all solids, mostly greens, blues and greys. Then after about an hour, I added another piece to each, to get a paler shade. I did this again half an hour later. I may even have tucked a fourth one in before the dye was totally exhausted!

Here they are in the plastic bags sitting in the cat litter tray:

lots of plastic bags in a cat litter tray!

When I had done that, I used up the rest of the made up dye liquid by space dyeing some previously dyed fabric in a cat litter tray (jolly useful, they are!). I threw the rayon thread in at the last minute – rayon seems to take the procion dyes very readily and it was fun to see it creeping along the fibres! I put some underneath the fabric too, to soak up the residue.

space dyeing fabric in a cat litter tray

I also tucked fabric into jamjars and poured dye liquid over it, and some more into old margarine tubs. I would have put the top picture here but I thought the plastic bags picture was a bit boring to start this post with! As you can see, I trailed some yarn in and out of all the jamjars and it made for an interestingly multicoloured piece. I dyed an immense amount of fabric this time. I don’t know exactly how much but it was two washing machine loads.

Here is the first load drying on the washing line:

green, black and blue fabric on washing line

And the second one… I was exhausted!

multicoloured washing line!

Close up…

more fabric on line

Here it is, all ironed, folded and sorted into colours and values. Phew!

circle of folded dyed fabric

We have greens, blues, greys and blacks…. I was pleased, actually, at getting a couple of quite dark black fabrics. I want to try discharging with these to see what colours they discharge to. I mixed a couple of different black dye powders together to get this – one with a bluey tint to it, one with a greeny one.

green fabrics

We have reds and purples…

reds and purple fabrics

And we have oranges and browns… some of these were the overdyed space dyed ones.

orange and brown fabrics and one yellow

This was the most dramatic overdyed fabric. It started off being turquoise, and I had so much of it I decided to use it. It went into a big margarine tub in a sort of ‘parfait dyeing’ way, with black at the bottom and then I kept pouring different colours in and adding more fabric and more dye till it was full!

black, blue, pink etc  overdyed fabric

And here is the yarn. It is rayon and some of it has a sort of glittery stuff wrapped round it.

dyed yarn

Phew! Got to find somewhere to put it all now… just blogging it took nearly an hour!!

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