Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dye Beet Dye.....

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables.Beets are deadly serious...." -Tom Robbins (1936-) (American novelist)
In the third dynasty, at Thebes, the  lovely beet was known to have existed. Not sure if it was exactly the "Beta Vulgaris" ( isn't that a wonderful name for the  beet?), ,but the remains at Thebes were beets.
The luscious red-purple pigmentation of the lowly  root veggie makes for some great fabric dye.  The purple pigment, known as betacyanin, is one of my favourite ways to dye quilt pieces. In the 19th century it became known as the "blood turnip".
The red "dye" tends to bleed out of the beet. It is very unstable.  Perfect for fabric. And doesn't leave any weird odour.It is also a better alternative for using in Red Velvet Cake, instead of food colouring.
Boil up some beets, take out the cooked veggie and you will be left with a concentrated wine coloured liquid. I always add more water to the pot afterwards.
Beets, in Roman times, were used for all sorts of ailments, commonly fevers and digestive issues.
Hippocrates  was an advocate for using beetroot on wounds. Not sure how effective this was.
To get ready to dye fabric you will need the pot of beetroot juice, that should still be warm, to which you've added some warm water. And don't forget the empty metal bowl ( not plastic since plastic will pick up the red stain from the juice)
Choose what you want to stuff into the pot. I have a number of pieces to stain. They look fine the way they are, but so nice to switch things up.I'm trying to antique the fabric. You can use strong tea or coffee. But beet juice is  pretty great.
Beets have a fresh, earthy scent, besides leaking red . In the 19th century women used beet juice to colour their cheeks and lips.
In Europe, around the middle of the 1500's the beet was cultivated, where it looked more like a parsnip than anything else. Not the round  garlic bulb shape that we know  now.
Get ready, get set. DYE! Get those gloves on, or your hands will be pink. And even though the stain will fade. In time. YOU may not want to be first cousin to a beet.
Stuff  the fabric, or quilt panels little by little into the pot  of juice.
Let soak for however long you like. It does not take  long. You can even leave overnight. But the stain will be darker.
Some fabrics will pull on the red stain a lot better. Cottons are great for taking on the dye.Poly cottons,and any synthetics will be less so.Let the huddling mass of wet fabric rest in the liquid.
"What did the carrot say to the wheat? Lettuce rest. I'm feeling beet. " -Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)
When you feel sufficiently
rested : Yank out the pieces. Squeeze them silly and lay in the metal bowl.
                       After being in Beet juice                                              BEFORE beet juice

AFTER Beet Juice.                   Hang on a garden trellis stand to drip dry.Or a tree.
The reason for the metal bowl is so you don't drop beet juice all over the place.  Hang the rest on a clothing rack to dry  for a short time in the outside air, on a porch, or even in a basement if the weather is nasty.
When the fabric has dried partially, toss into the clothes drier and complete the drying. The beet juice will set. 
  You should NOT be washing quilts, only spot cleaning if they do get stained with food, or wine, and there should not be any reason for them to get dirty. Do NOT throw  in beet stained quilt pieces, with your white sheets to have a  run through . SPOT CLEAN only. You'll extend the life of the quilt, and stop any damaging or  fading of fabric. 

"Stay curious. And eat your beets." -Tom Robbins (1936-)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

In the Cool

 "Life is eating us up. We shall be fables presently. Keep cool: It will be all one hundred years hence." -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
 Excerpts from : In the Cool of the Evening by Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) English poet and playwright, he was born a couple of years before Emerson died. Noyes was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature. He's known well for his poem The Highwayman, with its  rhyhmical line " riding, riding to the old inn door....". In high school we  imagined we were the highwayman with his bunch of lace at his chin..... I love classic poetry.  So romantic. Tragic. Not so tragic. Then tragic again.  Or poignant. Gentle. Kind. Not so kind. Surprising. Like this one....
 In the cool of the evening, when the low sweet whispers waken
 And the weary have their will

 Is it but the wind that cometh o'er the far green hill?

 Tis but the sunset  winds that wander through the heather.

 Rustle all the meadow grass
 Tis but the winds that bow the reeds in prayer together.

 In the Garden that He loveth
 His lovely vesture with the darkness of a name...

 But the wind that moveth

 The miracle is the same.
 In the cool of the evening, when the sky is an old story

 And loved with passion still

 Hush! the fringe of His garment, in the fading golden glory,
 Softly rustling as he cometh o'er the far green hill.

 In the Cool of the Evening by Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) From "1000 Beautiful Things" compiled by Marjorie Barrow, 1948, Peoples Book Club inc., Chicago.
Photographs: Michelle McConachie Woods 2016