I have a plastic tub, littered with bright red and orange petals, sitting on what’s rapidly becoming the seed-saving bench by the staircase. They’re safflower petals. I read online that they should be plucked and dried, so I went out and pulled the petals. Most of them are sitting above immature seed pods. They’re the most beautiful garden detritus ever. I also picked marigold heads and froze them in a plastic bag. My home is a halfway house for preserved color.

These are both for dyeing. I’ll need more of both before I can dye any substantial amount of fiber, but I’m willing to wait. I’m a spinner and a knitter, with a vast amount of white fiber in my fiber basket and a small but decent budget for the Michigan Fiber Festival next month. And to buy more fiber I should spin and knit what I have, and spinning is much more fun when the fiber is colored. Especially when it’s the colors of my own garden.

The Hopi Red Dye amaranth is coming up well (if randomly–as I said, none where I planted them but plenty where I didn’t), and the tepary beans are too, and I have rosemary and red-leaf basil already. (The latter turns out to taste like anise, which I despise, so I was glad to find in my copy of A Dyer’s Garden that they make a nice olive green or muaveish dye, depending on how they’re treated and what fiber you use.) I don’t know whether my indigo is going to get big enough to use this year. I do know that I’m going to have a tremendous amount of fun trying to bring the colors of my plants into the fiber that I will draw and twist into yarn, and making the yarn into beautiful, useful things, just like the plants (and animals) they came from.

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