Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unexpected gifts

One of the things I want to do with the fleece from my 6 sheep and llama is dye some of it with gifts from Mother Nature. Recently I collected some lichen from our woods. It was a green ground lichen (that's not its name but lichen are like fungi and a few other things in that they are way too difficult to identify much of the time so I don't try). Anyway, when you collect anything like that in the wild the rule is take only about 1 % of any colony so you can understand that it takes awhile to collect properly. Then you dry it, crumble it, soak it a few days, and simmer it for a long time. While this has all been going on, your fleece or yarn or whatever has been soaking for a long time and then is heated to the same temperature of the dye bath before it can be added to the dye bath. Then you just have to keep simmering it until the color goes into the fiber. The lichen I collected turned a nice yellow goldy color. Different lichen, I am told, have a wide range of colors. Bark is another good dye stuff. I have been wanting to try some different barks and lichens but don't want to rip the bark off trees so again it is time to go searching in the woods for dead trees.

Today, both were brought to me on the back of Bemis's log truck when he delivered some wood. As I was making a pile of the pieces John was cutting, lo and behold, bark was falling off some of the wood and some had beautiful lichen. As it is all going to the wood pile I don't have to go by the 1 % rule. WOW what a gift. Thank you Mother Nature. Thank you Bemis.

Many years ago a woman I knew told me a beautiful story about unexpected gifts. She said that many times people pray to God for something but then forget to look for the gift, or go on in their life in a different direction and want something else. Many gifts from God are sent but never received, she went on, and eventually they are returned unopened. She said she thought God stockpiles them waiting to see where they can be sent. She told me if I was ever sad or depressed or just needed a little something in my life I should simply ask God to select and send one of those undelivered gifts, then watch for it and be thankful. Sounds right to me.


  1. A friend of mine uses black walnuts for adding color to her paints. I think the color comes from the shells.

  2. I make soap colour from natural things growing here. Various flower petals make good colouring. I use red hibiscus for a pink shade and calendula petals for yellow. Sage or comfrey leaves can make green dyes too.