trees and stones

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What a breath of fresh air, literally, it is to get out of the city and head to the mountain! We left, with a bag packed with snacks and not much of a plan, only to head to the woods. We all miss it, not just me.

Ever since we moved to Lisbon, I want to move out, and I think, we all do. In fact the only reason we decided to rent this flat is my lack of driving license, which is frustrating me a lot! I did try, but failed my test and with a few unfortunate events, couldn’t set the exam again, and now I must start all over again in Portugal…

I have been wanting to write about Lisbon, but it’s hard to talk about it “publicly”, mainly because it hasn’t been a very positive experience. It’s not been really that bad, but  when your heart is not in it and what you want is a another kind of life, it just gets a bit difficult, especially as our days would look a bit different if only I had passed that bloody driving test!

The first month was very good, we had friends and family visiting and we had just moved; then Paul started work, and things went bad and some days I feel quite sad for being “stuck” in the city, with not even a garden to get my hands dirty… other days we really enjoy! Making new friends, finding the wilder spaces in a not so wild city, making use of the culture available and getting out as much as possible. There has been plenty of hot beach days too, which is very good indeed!

Back to today, we picked wild carrot (I hope Cat was with us so that she could tell us for sure), as it’s for dyeing I’m not terribly bothered about it’s identification, but it would be nice to know! I’ve been seeing this plant a lot when we go out of the city and was glad to gather some today. Also spotted the first Saint Jonh’s wort since leaving Lousã. The picture is not properly focused, but the battery of my camera died after this one taking this photo, but I wanted to document it anyway. Unfortunately we didn’t gather any, not even for my daughter’s “bouquet”  as there was only one plant, I will keep my eyes peeled for more.

 

Blue

woad leaves

woad leaves

woad flower

First two pictures is woad plant leaves, before it started flowering, they were very close to the ground; now, within just a few weeks, they’re up to my waist and about to flower.

Woad has been cultivated in Europe since ancient times to use as a blue dye, until indigo became readily available. Both plants have the same blue matter, but in indigo the concentration is bigger, however it’s  very difficult to grow indigo plants in colder climates. So, last year I planted about seven woad plant’s in the allotment. It’s a biennial plant, one should use the leaves for dyeing in the first year, since the blue chemical concentration is greater, and let the plant flower in the second year to save the seeds. I’m planning to save a few seeds and let a few on the plants to see if it’ll self-seed here in Scotland.

The process for dyeing with fresh woad leaves is very similar to indigo, I used the method describe in the book”Wild Color”.  I dyed two skeins of Bluefaced Leicester, some linen and silk, but I didn’t wait long enough, I was too anxious to see the results, that in the end I was a little disappointed because I didn’t get the dark blue I was looking for. It still was a great experience, specially because the children were involved, they called it magic to see the wool oxidase and turn blue before our eyes!

woad dyed

woad dyed

But, as they say, it’s all about the process, so last week I ordered some indigo because I wanted to explore some ideas for the shop, and finally on Monday I got to play… and I dyed the skeins of wool, this time with indigo and I love the results! And new products should be coming soon, too!

indigo dyed

a little happy vest

milo vest

I haven’t knit much in the last few months, and what I have knit, I haven’t enjoyed that much: two baby hats that are too big, a scarf that needs more concentration that I can give, a rug that I have to start again… and there is probably more!

But this little vest is different! I really, really like it! It was knitted in about three days (the dishes weren’t washed when they should, and probably other things weren’t accomplished either, but sometimes that IS necessary…). It feels really good to knit and finish something that I’m happy with!

The yellow yarn was dyed months ago with Eucalyptus from an allotment neighbor and the green yarn is a left over from another project. If you want more details, here’s the project page.