Ok – so this will be my second try. The first was such a dismal failure, I don’t want to even mention it. I used far too little dye stuff and cotton yarn. It changed from white to slightly less white. I used goldenrod flowers and bedstraw root. I didn’t want to use much root, as that obviously kills the plant.

I am serious this time. I AM GOING TO MAKE Sumac Dyed Yarn!

Today I collected a HUGE bag of stiff goldenrod, and another HUGE bag of sumac berries.

There is a huge abundance of both plants on the prairie. And…Sumac is invading the prairie, so I wouldn’t feel bad if I actually hurt that plant.

The sumac turned my hand red, so that’s a good sign.

I tried the Sumac first and used 200g to dye 100 grams of yarn using 100% super wash merino – just in case.

I used 8 gr of alum and 6 gr of cream of tartar for mordant, simmering for 30 min.

The dye bath was made from the 200 grams of sumac, boiled for 30-40 minutes. It smelled and made my eyes burn. I will do sumac outside from now on!

Left both to cool overnight.


I drained out the sumac berries, washed the yarn, then simmered it in the dye bath.

It turned out tan instead of red. I think the berries were too dried out. But I am happy! The yarn changed colors and it is a pleasant one!


UPDATE – The goldenrod seeded out while drying. I don’t think I will use them. I will try again next year and use fresh. There are other options yet this fall.




May 22, 2016

Tiny pics- left to right starting at the top:

Hoary pucoon

Mouse-eared chickweed 

? Not sure. I don’t know my shrubs very well. I can list a bunch of things it isn’t. 


Blue eyed grass

Buffalo bean /prairie plum

Wild strawberry

Golden Alexander 

The two big pics: 

Top- prairie smoke

Bottom – violet wood sorrel

Single big pic- prairie smoke detail.


Today is a beautiful day. A Spring day. The kind of day that makes you happy to live in Minnesota.

We have survived another winter to emerge again like the little grass shoots pushing up through the soil this week. The ice has been off of the big lake for a little more than a week. There is no wind today and the sun is shining, so the lake is a deep blue flat surface. It won’t be long before we can swim in it again, but today it is still icy cold.

The lawns are slowly turning green as the new grass shoots shove aside the dead, brown grass and leaves that have suffocated under the snow all winter. Several of my conscientious neighbors have been raking away the dead vegetation from last fall in an attempt to encourage their lawns to hurry up and grow.

The buds on the maple tree outside my picture window will burst open any minute now.

This was a cold winter. A long, dark winter. A fairly normal Minnesota winter.

I have always thought that the calendar year should match the seasons better. The new year should start  on Memorial Day or when school gets out in the spring. The kids have finished their current ‘grade’ and are ready to begin their summer. Late spring really is the beginning of so many things here in Minnesota – crops get planted, summer projects are planned, and gardens are prepared. We itch to get going on Spring cleaning – to start fresh & new. I, for one, make more resolutions in the spring than I do in January, that is for sure. Not that my spring resolutions are more successful than January ones – I am just more inspired to get that fresh start in the spring than I am in the dark of winter.

Oh Holy Night

Christmas Eve. Midnight.

I just walked home from the candle light church service in the 3 inches of new, powdery snow that fell this afternoon. I was one of the last to leave the church as Christmas Eve is such a wonderful chance to visit with old friends who are home for the holiday.

But, I also lingered to make sure that I had a solitary walk home. I love the quiet that comes after a snowfall. The soft new snow muffles all the usual sounds of cars and humming electrical lines.

I found myself singing O Holy Night – but there were no stars brightly shining tonight, but the overcast winter sky has its own appeal. The light from the street lights bounces off the new, bright snow into the sky. The low clouds reflect the light back. While it is not “the luster of midday,” it is quite bright. The sky is pinkish gray and the light is soft and diffused. The soft light and the softening of all sound makes winter nighttime strolls magical.

Oh Holy Night – Oh Night Divine

Merry Christmas

Frosty windows

It must be sad to live in a place that never gets frosty windows.



Cold and Clear

Today was cold. Cold and clear. Bright blue sky, sparkling snow, and cold enough to take your breath away.

The very cold weather causes tiny ice crystals or ice dust to form in the air and we get “sundogs.” The ring of light around the sun was visible most of the day. Here is another photo from a few years ago.



The girls posed with the sundogs for me this morning on the way to school. We were 2 hours late because of the cold and snow. At these temperatures -8 and wind speeds, it feels like -20-30. It can be dangerous to have exposed skin for more than a few minutes. But we took a quick pic (with T blocking the sun so the whole ring would get exposed) and hustled off to school.

The local parade that was scheduled for tonight was postponed due to the frigid temperatures, but the community dinner went on as planned. Despite the cold temperatures, the local hall was filled with hearty Minnesotans who turned out to see who else would turn out on such a cold night. Our local royalty posed with Santa Claus and everyone visited with friends and neighbors…and talked about the weather.

Winter is here

Today we woke to a half inch coating of light, powdery snow, and are expecting much more.

Those of us who live in places with cold winters understand the differences in snow. The first snow was rather wet and heavy. It stuck together well to make snowballs and snowmen. Today’s snow is made up of tiny, light flakes. When it stays cold, the individual snowflakes stay – well, individually frozen. Snowballs are impossible with this snow. Now mater how hard you try to press it together, you will still have a handful of powder. The tiny, light flakes of today are pleasant to walk through, but will make for treacherous conditions if the wind starts blowing. It only takes a  little bit of snow blowing around in the wind to make it nearly impossible for drivers to see the road.