Having a rummage through my dyeing supplies, I discovered I’d more in stock than I thought I had of two very important, useful, and interesting dye materials – Logwood and Indigo. So today I set about making good use of that Indigo.
As well as dyeing some natural white Cheviot, I thought I’d experiment with top- or over-dyeing skeins previously dyed with other colours, particularly those of which I had a generous quantity in stock. For this session I selected skeins of Cheviot previously dyed with Bog Myrtle (leaves and twigs) ; Tomato (pinched out side-shoots) ; Rhubarb leaves.
Indigo top-dyed [L] over Bog Myrtle [R]
Solution of indigo and wood ash
For over-dyeing with Indigo : Plain Cheviot (B) ; Rhubarb (L) ; Tomato [R]
Variety of colours from one session dyeing with Indigo
Variety of colours from one session dyeing with Indigo
Dyeing with indigo on natural white produces blues – the various shades being from successive batches, each leaving less of the colour in the liquor for the next batch. Top-dyeing over the various shades of beige and brown produces greens – also in diverse shades, according to the succession of batches.
Next time, Logwood ? It’s certainly one of my favourites to dye with – all those rich purples.
Today, the sky is clear and the sunshine brings a cheer to the soul, but no warmth for the body – or not that can compete with an icy wind from the Siberian tundra.
Snails hibernating on the outside walls of the Hebridean Woolshed
Too-early primrose. The Big Garden Isle of South Uist
Even so, there’s just a few days left of February, and so Spring is, officially, waiting in the wings.
In the walled garden, crocuses – including those gifted to us last Spring by a generous fellow blogger – are tentatively forming flower buds.
This afternoon we found a young primrose plant that, naïvely relying on the lengthening days as sufficient cue for flowering, was burned and withered by the wind-chill. It will survive and try again in a few weeks, along with the older, wiser primroses – including it’s own parents.
Preparing to re-fit the Hebridean Woolshed sign to the timber boards of the shop’s exterior cladding, we noticed the extended family of snails that habituated to the space behind the sign during the summer, have spent the winter there as well.
One seasonal phenomenon that seems to have taken to the stage somewhat earlier this year, is Homo Sapiens ‘Touristicus’. This year, bookings for our two cottages before Easter are unusually good.
Thus motivated, J and I set about putting our shop, here in the walled garden, into order for the season ahead. Normally we’d be doing this just before Easter, so we’re at least a month early.
However the Hebridean Woolshed 2018 has new heating and lighting, and that might make all the difference. Or are we being naïve, like that primrose? If so, let’s hope we don’t get wind-chilled too!
After a long journey, we’re back in Uist : home, sweet home! (No, we haven’t moved permanently to Navarra!)
Becky’s pleased to see us! Tilly’s pleased to see us! (And judging from appearances, Tilly’s tail is even more excited to see us than Tilly herself!). Pickle is pleased to see us, even if her demeanour is intended to convey her displeasure at having been abandoned by us in the first place. Dusky and Tabatha have each demonstrated their delight at our return by kneading our laps with sharp claws and squeaky purrs. Tom trots ahead of us to show us his empty bowl.
Becky’s done an excellent job of looking after home and garden. And, at the Big Garden Croft – over the water in Eriskay, everything is in excellent order. It’s true that we now have one chicken less than we had before we left, but after that first early-morning raid by an eagle, Becky shut the chickens in for a few days, and there were no more losses. All the sheep are present and in good shape. (Now half-way through pregnancy, that shape is getting rounder by the day!) They really do enjoy their morning supplementary ration of sheep nuts and hay!
Becky can’t be expected to do everything for us, whilst we’re away, so there’s a lot of jobs to catch up on – not least the the administration and bureaucracy of modern life (especially a life of multiple self-employments).
Then there’s re-stocking with animal feed and hay. Winter maintenance, decoration and improvements at the holiday lets to complete. The compost heap built up in 2016, and now matured, has to be dug out , and spread across about a third of the walled garden’s growing plots : the 2017 compost will take it’s place (thereby being thoroughly stirred up and aerated) and then over the next couple of months seaweed will be collected from the shore and piled up on top.
On the agenda today : shopping to re-stock the pantry shelves ; sawing firewood ; spinning wool ; checking our stock of potatoes ; filling the vehicles with fuel ; financial records ; and of course, inevitably, everything to tip out of our travel bags and put back in their proper places, and dirty washing to launder.
Horns and Plenty. Ram lambs.
Left-overs from an eagle’s breakfast. Fewer eggs for ours.
Checking the electric fence voltage.
Breakfast Gate. Bothy Field.
Checking the boxes of potatos gone-bad. None, thank heavens – but some sprouts to rub off.
After excellent sales during the 2017 summer season, and an unexpectedly steady trickle of online orders since, the Hebridean Woolshed is sorely depleted of stock, and likewise the Big Garden of jams, chutneys and preserves. After nearly a month of our the winter making-season away from home, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do! And to add to the pressure, this year we’ve quite a number of early bookings for our two holiday cottages : not just in March, but even in February. No wonder we’ve scarcely had a holiday in more than fifteen years!
Having, now, a place of our own to go away to (albeit with not a little difficulty) does seem to have given us fresh motivation to make the most of what we have here, to give it our very best.