Friday, July 24, 2009

Fibre Arts Gardening

Sarah is growing several varieties of woad sent to her from friends in UK, Norway, and Prince Edward Island. The variety that she received from Norway is a surprise.

The first year leaves had larger cells in the Norwegian variety, than in the woad that came from UK or Ontario. It also appeared to have higher indigo yields -- faster to extract -- 7 to 8 grams of indigo per kg. of leaves. Although the indigo was less pure -- had a lower indigotin content.

Now those plants are in their second year and look entirely different from all the other varieties that Sarah is growing. The seeds are held high on the plant with fewer seeds per plant. The siloque are larger and more rounded. Plus they are reddish rather than purple-black. (The regular woad is black in the background of this picture, with the Norwegian woad in the foreground)

This seems to be another Isatis sp. -- not Isatis tinctoria. The Isatis tinctoria plants have blue-purple stem colour. This plant has a red stem colour. Does anyone have any insight as to what this might be?

Could it be Isatis chemisis? Or Isatis glauca (a perennial?).

This year's woad is ready for the first harvest. Some of the leaves were damaged by hail about 2 weeks ago, but new leaves have replaced the damaged leaves. Sarah will be doing a harvest for the public tomorrow, at our indigo dye day.

Here is the living willow chair in all its glory. Some of the back weavers didn't take so we'll weave in the side shoots on the arm branches to fill it in. Only the cat has sat on it. But it looks like it is well rooted so we can sit on it now.

The linen flax was damaged by the hail but not too badly. It started to flower last week and the plants are beginning to yellow at the root area, so we are right on schedule for the harvest at the linen festival in two weeks.

Here is dyer's chamomile. I harvest the flowers as they open and dry them, saving up for a large dye vat. (Dye content: quercetin, apigenin, luteolin) I am dyeing with yarrow this week -- high in luteolin, like weld, so a good fast yellow. I have acres of it growing over our homestead and the animals leave it alone.

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