Monday, March 12, 2012
Book review: Harvesting Color (How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes)
When picking items to take over to the rental, I only allowed myself to pack up and move a small number of books (by my standards at least). I tried to focus on the main categories: a few favorite cookbooks, a few favorite craft books, design magazines and some DIY books. Mostly I brought my gardening books, knowing that I would be in this space during prime garden planning time.
I also put this little gem of a book into the pile: Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess, with the goal of using it to help plan the dye garden portion of my Spring planting. (Joanna passed this book and several others along to me, wasn't that nice?)
The book is organized by Season, and each Season has a selection of dye plants (and a regional map of where you can find them) as well as information on mordants, dye processes and harvesting plants.
Two plants that I already have access to also happen to make beautiful dye. Pokeberry (we call it "poke salad" around here) grows like a weed in my yard, and I love the idea of using the beautiful berries from the gigantic plants that always seem to fly under the radar until they are six feet tall! The dye it makes is gorgeous, isn't it?
Another one I'd like to try is fennel, I'd need to grow quite a bit more of it than I normally do (apparently it naturalizes in some parts of the country, but not down here) but Ian loves to eat it, and whatever I don't use for dyeing I can leave for the butterflies and their caterpillars later in the season! I love the celery green it produces, don't you?
Each Season even has a knitting project, using yarn dyed with natural dye recipes included in the book.
Also, I remember our conversation the other day about how much different living sustainably looks when you live in an apartment instead of a house with a garden and chickens, this book: Fresh Food From Small Spaces made me think of you! Check it out and let me know if you're interested, I'll mail it to you!