I'm having so much fun playing with this latest batch of yarn back from the mill. No matter the results, it's all an experiment and experiments - with no expectations - are just plain fun. The brown eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) turned out to be a bit underwhelming. I left the yarn in the dye pot for a full 48 hours, and even added modifiers, but the results were just a subtle shift from how they started (in the second photo above, you can see the undyed skeins on the left, and dyed on the right. Subtle! But there's always more dye to be added - perhaps these will be headed to an indigo vat. Or, I have visions of a striped shawl with all of these subtle tans and yellows. That would be lovely too. SO many possibilities.
I'm keeping careful notes of all of this experimenting, perhaps not because I think any of it could actually be precisely replicated, but because it's already fun looking back at the notes and seeing what we used, and what the day was like. It's a bit more dye journal that precise dye notebook.
The Queen Anne's Lace, on the other hand, gave me a solid shift in color and a lovely one at that (the undyed yarn is on the right in the last photograph above). It's a really soft yellow, but a true yellow, not like the yellows I get from tansy or golden rod. And again I think....hmn...stripey soft-colored shawl? Perhaps. It might have to be for Ani, who gathered most of these flowers for me ("Queen Annies" she calls them, and now I do too). Do you know how many flowers it takes to gather 400grams? A good deal! She worked hard for those flowers, my little one.
Next up, I predict a little less subtly! Some madder root is currently soaking and in a few days, yarn will be added to that for what I hope to be a bit of color. It's so hard to wait! But so worth it for the joy of seeing what plant makes what color....and all the many little ways we can tweak that along the way. Magic! Or science! All the same.
The first of our (many) sunflowers opened this weekend. It was actually a volunteer plant, this one. There were so many in the garden that I found this year, and where they weren't in the way or wouldn't make too much shade for plants beneath them, I just let them be. Which means that we have sunflowers coming up everywhere and anywhere right now. In the middle of a garden bed full of bush beans? Sure! At the edge of the cabbage bed? Yes!
I'm not the only one who is thrilled with the abundance of flowers in the garden right now. Of course all the pollinators are too! I find our honeybees (and others!) all over the place right now, and judging from the frames that Steve keeps adding to the colony, I'd say they're quite happy indeed. Harper has taken a bit of a fondness to tending the bees with Steve....though I think a large part of that can be credited to the joy of playing with fire (via the smoker). Whatever the draw, I love watching them out there together working the bees.
Ah, this peak of summer is so colorful! I am doing my very best to bottle it up for February. Literally, in the jars of preserves being added to the shelves each day, and the frames of honey being built. And figuratively, in my heart and in my mind, as I try to remember to slow it down this time of year. Savor, enjoy and delight in the height of this season.
Wishing you a wonderful start to your own week, friends!
Greetings from Brooklyn General Store!
Brooklyn General Store resides tucked away on a sweet block West of the Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill neighborhoods. At the north end of Red Hook, this commercial block on Union Street used to be a thriving shopping block for all types of foods and goods. Brooklyn General’s home within the Old Frank’s Department Store is a throw back to that era, with its preserved floor to ceiling shelves, rolling ladders and classic old wooden floors. The vintage interior is not reproduced, just uncovered, cleaned and painted. If the original shelving isn’t enough to hold all the goods, vintage rolling shoe racks, stacks of old blueberry boxes, vintage pie safes, vintage hardware displays and shelving built from reclaimed wood house the rest.
Brooklyn General Store was created in an effort to provide the highest quality materials to a community of devoted artists and craftspeople and to promote making things by hand through inspiration and education. Not only is it a place to feast your eyes and hands on glorious colors and patterns and textures but it is a place that respects and honors a time when a trip to the country store was a way of life. It is a place where a visit for a yard of fabric turns in to a hour sharing and teaching with other people in our creative Brooklyn community. It is a haven where you can leave behind the city swirl and relish in a quiet place filled with inspiration and support for any project you can dream of.
Following its mission to promote all things handmade, Brooklyn General offers a wide variety of classes in knitting, sewing, quilting, furniture upholstery, felting, spinning, rug hooking and embroidery. Classes are limited in size in order for students to have ample individual attention. Studio time with our fantastic new BERNINA classroom machines is also available. BrooklynGeneral.com was created to share our carefully picked goods with all the creative souls outside of Brooklyn, NY.
Get a feel for the shop here.
Get a feel for The Union Bag here.
Please follow us on Instagram!!
SouleMama: Since the last time you were featured on SouleMama, in what ways has your business grown or changed? Is there anything new you'd like to tell us about?
Catherine: As the owner of Brooklyn General Store, I am continuously on the hunt for textiles, yarns and beautiful and useful products and tools...preferably made by someone's hands. For 15 years I have been looking for my idea of the perfect project bag to no avail. For several years, I have been tossing around the idea of creating this dream bag...a bag that would be strong, utilitarian, hold several knitting or other projects and be sourced and made in the United States. This year, the dream has come to fruition and I have created a bag that I proudly call The Union Bag. The name stems from many things...the shop is located on Union Street, one of my favorite songs is "Union Maid" by Woody Guthrie and I love old photos of the Union Railroad with their bright blue Rail cars. The bags are made with Railroad Denim and lined in natural Linen/cotton with a smattering of pockets inside and one on the outside. The bag bottom, buckles, handles and straps are made with latigo leather.
This weekend, Brooklyn General Store is generously offering the following gift to TWO lucky SouleMama readers:
$50 gift certificate
In addition, Brooklyn General Store would like to offer SouleMama readers 10% off all website orders for the duration of this weekend (July 23 and 24). Use code soulemama2016 at checkout!
To enter today's giveaway, leave a comment below (one entry per person, please). Comments will close by 9 am EST on Sunday. Winners will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced in this post shortly after. Comments closed. The winners are...
I love this giveaway! Thanks!
Posted by: Karoline
Thanks for the chance. This Union Bag looks outstanding--I love everything that Brooklyn General stocks!
Posted by: Andrea
Aren't all these gardens just beautiful? And the gardeners who keep them just so inspiring? I'm having such fun with this series. I hope you are too. Today, in Jaime's garden, we get to peek at one family's creative suburban backyard garden as well as their community school garden, which Jaime helped create. I think you'll love her heartfelt words about weeding, too - it certainly resonated with me and I can't count the number of times that my garden has been a therapeutic comfort in times of worry or stress - big or small. I think that's something so many of us share alongside our love for growing food.
Welcome to Jaime's Garden!
Gardener: Jaime Zanocco Fagan
Garden Location and Zone: Rockford, Illinois --- Zone 5
Garden Size: 92 x 220 ft garden and 4 apple trees
How long have you been gardening?
This is my eighth growing season as an at-home gardener. In addition to my personal garden, I also helped create and currently maintain a 40 x 110 foot school garden that is now entering its fourth growing season.
Why do you garden?
I love growing food. It is my passion, my lifeblood. While I enjoy surrounding myself with beautiful flowers, I think fruit and veggies are where it’s at. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than seeing the food I have grown, grace our plates at mealtime.
But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of growing my own food, is sharing this passion with others. I have the absolute pleasure of working with the students of Cathedral of St. Peter School in their school garden. I began this gardening project four years ago because I feel many children have lost their connection to the food they eat. They view food as coming from the grocery store and have no idea how it is grown, or the work that goes in to growing it. Working with these students allows them to connect with their food, see how it is grown, and become an active participant in that growth process. Our garden project enables students to try new foods, and learn about the importance of consuming healthy foods and how that translates into fuel for our bodies and minds. Most importantly, our school garden work illustrates how to be stewards of Creation, and to value and cherish all that the Earth provides for us each and every day.
If you have children, what role do they play in your gardening?
My two daughters are the reason I started gardening. Prior to having children, my eating habits consisted of diet Coke and Poptarts. But when suddenly faced with the responsibility of caring for another human being, my thoughts on food underwent a seismic shift. I began devouring Michael Pollan’s texts, and was forever changed after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle. The tale of her family’s food journey inspired me take my own family on a real-food adventure. We work together, as a family, to grow the food we need, and supplement with food grown by those in our community. This year my girls built their own raised beds, chose what they wanted to grow in that space, and are on their way to their very own harvest this summer.
How would you describe your garden?
I would describe my garden as a place of nourishment and strength, for both the body and the soul. My garden has always brought me a sense of peace, but that took on an entirely new meaning last summer. On June 30th, I lost my mom to an extremely aggressive form of cancer, and during this most difficult time of my life I found myself in my garden. I found there is nothing more therapeutic than crouching down amongst all that green, plunging my hands deep into the soil, and pulling out weeds from the root. It almost feels as if this simple act helps me to get to the root of my problems, and as each weed falls in my bucket, a small piece of that grief and frustration falls into the bucket as well. And so, whenever I am feeling like I need a bit of a pick-me-up I set off for my garden and pull out my struggles, piece by piece. And in the end, I am left feeling a little bit lighter, and find myself surrounded by a beautiful miracle. One that will provide my family with beauty and sustenance for many months ahead. And one that I know my mom is looking down upon with a smile on her face.
What’s your biggest garden accomplishment?
I would say my greatest gardening accomplishment has been the ability to provide food for my family. My garden allows me the opportunity to place healthy food in front of my family that not only fills their stomachs, but also truly nourishes them. I believe that the work and love I pour into our garden can be tasted in the food we consume, and helps us in our quest to live healthy lives. I am proud of the fact that in the hot summer heat of late August, when I spend hours on end in the kitchen chopping, canning, blanching and freezing, I will have a freezer and larder full of our homegrown food to get us through the winter. And I absolutely love sharing my overflowing passion for food with our family and friends.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Jaime Zanocco Fagan and I am a wife, mother, suburban homesteader, and educator. My family and I live in the Midwest where we aim to live in harmony with Creation. My family’s adventures are chronicled at makingofahome.com.
. . . .
Thank you, Jaime, for sharing your garden!
(If you'd like to share your garden with us this season, send me an email for more details. We'd love to visit!)
We picked Calvin up from running camp yesterday, not all that far from home. "Do we have to go anywhere on the way home?" he asked right away - both tired, I think, but perhaps more than that, eager to get home to call his girlfriend. It had been three whole days since they had spoken, after all. Remember that feeling? Sweet. And funny. (Yes, he knows I'm writing this about him.)
Annabel, from the back, chimed in with her knowledge of the ride-home plan. "Ice cream!" she said. And that was true - I had promised an ice cream stop at a new place along the route. It was yummy (but what ice cream isn't?).
"We need to stop for Japanese knotweed!" Harper shouted.
"And I need more Queen Anne's Lace!" I added.
There was an audible moan from the passenger seat (too tired to exercise his new driver's permit in my seat). Because there's nothing my fifteen-year-old loves more than stopping on the side of the road so Mom can pick weeds. But he's a good sport, and ice cream can get you through most any kind of parental torture, and so we carried on. I carry clippers in the car now, because there are too many times I wish I'd had them with me and didn't. (I usually keep a pair of tall boots in the back of the car too, because poison ivy and I are not friends, and walking through tall weeds is kind of just asking for trouble. Or so I hear.) I'm pretty mindful of where we stop and 'pick,' much to the chagrin of my kids who would like for me to stop at the very first spot they find, even if that's in front of our neighborhood post office. Since I'm generally looking for invasive plants anyway (not sure that either of those two things are very 'welcome' by most growers around here), I feel just fine on overgrown state roads, and only taking a little bit. That's all we needed on this trip, anyway....a few more Queen Anne's Lace to add to a dye pot I have nearly ready to go, and some japanese knotweed (bamboo) for a project Harper had in mind. The day before he had mentioned 'seeing somewhere, in a book or something' directions on making a flute from the knotweed (which he knows from working with it on other projects at Koviashuvik Local Living School). Steve puzzled over it with him, unable to suss out the source, and then it dawned on me, "Um, do you mean TAPROOT??".
Of course that was it. Issue 17::MYTH featured a pan flute tutorial by Michelle Housel. The tutorial came in and the issue came out at a time when all of our bamboo was dried out and split too easily...but now! Now we could make it, and I had an eager little guy leading the way, knife on his beltloop, twine in his pocket (always).
These flutes, I must say, were incredibly fun to put together. Just the right amount of work that could be done by the kids and help they needed from me. Not too tricky so as to frustrate them and have them lose interest. And lots of fun stops along the process to check out our work - like testing out each section to see which pieces sounded best (much to the delight of Greta). They were finished just before dark, and we wandered down to the garden to show Pop, who was taking a go at those bugs. Today, we'll do a little bit of reading about Pan, which I think might just inspire some more play with these. Annabel woke up with hers beside her, insisting that she will continue to practice (poor little thing can't get a sound out of them yet, despite everyone around her being able to do so. She's determined to do so and I'm sure she'll get it today. Even if she passes out first from blowing so often and so hard!).
And then, onto the Queen Anne's Lace! Phew! So many good things to be done in a day!
The garden is literally exploding right now. The wide and open dill flowers, the cabbage that curls into itself more each day, the sungolds turning, well, gold, and the peppers that appear from out of nowhere. The morning glories are almost reaching across the arch we made in the sunflower circle, where the sunflowers tower over Annabel's head (but not yet Harper's). We can see the ears of corn on the stalks forming, and a new flower blooms each day. It feels like fireworks in the garden each time I look, though far grander and simpler than any of those I've seen in the sky this month.
Last night, on my way to check on the potato bugs (I think they're winning this year for the first time, I just can't keep up with them), Annabel came running from playing with the goats and told me she needed a snack of peas. She sat down on the edge of the raised bed and began to pick. Just before dinner at the end of a long day full of adventure and sun, I could see she was exhausted and that sitting still for a moment might just be what she needed (before she crumbled). I diverted from the potatoes (see? the bugs win) and asked if she'd help me pick a basketful of peas instead. "Can I sit right here?" she asked, confirming the exhaustion. A few minutes later we found ourselves both all the way inside that raised bed pulling the last of the peas and readying a pile of stalks for the chickens to pick at. We talked of all things, side by side, and we worked in silence too. Of course, she ate more peas than she put in the basket, but that's okay. That's how these things roll. She impressed me with her knowledge of how the plant grew, what we'd do with the garden waste (it would go to the chickens or pigs, then to the compost to become soil that would then go back to the garden), and asked what we'd plant next in that spot now that the peas were done. My heart swelled, a little bit, in pride at this little five-year-old who has grown up no other way than harvesting peas in the garden, barefoot, with her Mama. And it was just about then that she declared (once again - this is a frequent Ani statement): "You know, I really don't like salads." And I said once again (as this is our schtick), "You can't not like salads, Ani. That's not a food, that's just how we describe a mix of foods." She gave me a scowl far too old for a five-year-old (older siblings, I tell you, that'll age a baby!), and said, "Mom....you know what I mean. All the green thingys you put in salads. Like the lettuce."
"And the spinach?" I asked.
Nope! Not interested!
"Kale?" I tried.
Yuck, yuck, yuck!
"But what about the almost white buttery sweet lettuce, you like that one right?"
Mom! You know....
So my little girl doesn't like salads....or anything 'green' for that matter (excepting peas). And as I was laughing to myself about that last night, I got to thinking about my kids in the garden over the years and that very typical moment that Ani and I shared. They've all had different levels of interest in the garden and that's changed from year to year. Maybe one of them will decide to manage one particular crop for the season...and more or less follow through with that. Or maybe they'll want a space of their own. Or maybe they're great at hauling barrels full of compost or mulch from here to there (in hopes of then asking for a ride somewhere). Or maybe they'll just stop by for a chat and find themselves weeding beside me without really knowing it. Different involvement, different kids, different ages. But I suppose the thing that stays the same is just that it's a constant in their life. That they can be sure to find me here, and that they always know they're welcome. And I for one, can count some of our simple moments together in the garden as some of my most treasured.
Greetings! I'm Amanda Blake Soule - mother of five, author of three books on family creativity, and editor-in-chief of Taproot Magazine. I live with my family in an old farmhouse in Western Maine where we raise animals, grow vegetables and make lots of things. I write about it all here on the blog. Thank you for visiting!